Truman continues tracking COVID-19 cases

Truman State University has continued its testing and tracking of the number of students with symptoms and those who have come in close contact with COVID-19 with the help of the Adair County Health Department. 

The Health Center reports students’ cases even if they are off campus or out of state. Any Truman student who has tested positive for coronavirus anywhere in the United States is recorded on Truman’s Coronavirus Updates and Resources website.

The only way to know if a student tested positive outside Adair County is if the student reports their positive case to Truman’s Health Center themself, Brenda Higgins, associate vice president for student health and wellness, said. 

The numbers of students who tested positive off-campus are reported to the Health Center everyday by the Adair County Health Department. 

The Health Center only tests students and does not provide service for faculty and staff, but if a staff or faculty member is tested positive anywhere else, their case is also reported to the Health Center. 

The faculty and staff cases are reported to Truman’s Health Center by the Adair County Health Department.

Higgins said the Health Center does diagnostic testing, which is testing for students who are either close contact or symptomatic. 

“We receive records from the State portal everyday, and we receive reports from our local hospital and Truman center, and complete family medicine,” Lori Guffey, Adair County Health Department assistant administrator, said.

Guffey said if a student tests off campus they have to fill out a case report form and they are asked if they attend a school or a university, which is how the Adair County Health Department determines if they are a Truman student.

“If Truman gets a positive result, they will share that information with us because we keep it on a daily blog to keep track of how many cases we have,” Guffey said. 

Jim LeBaron, Adair County Health Department administrator, said there have been more than 14,000 COVID tests done in Adair County, with about 10% of those being positive results. 

Recently, Adair County has seen a spike in the positive results

“Higher education as a group is probably higher than that,” LaBaron said. “Higher education has probably been about 25%, probably one of four of our cases are higher education related.”

The Health Center does not publish the number of students in quarantine because it is difficult to keep track of them, Higgins said. 

Higgins also said there are more people quarantining than the confirmed positive cases, as any student who has been in close contact with a positive case will be quarantined for 14 days. The number of those in “isolation” on Truman’s Coronavirus Updates and Resources website is the number of active positive cases, Higgins said. Some of the students are isolated on-campus while others prefer to go home. 

The Health Center does not know about every positive case on campus, Higgins noted. 

“The only way to know about every case at Truman is for the University to do surveillance testing of a large number of asymptomatic students,” Higgins explained. “Because there are individuals who are positive but asymptomatic.”

Truman’s Health Center uses two types of testing: rapid tests and polymerase chain reaction tests, also known as PCR tests. Rapid testing gives results within 15 minutes and is done in the Health Center lab. PCR testing is higher quality but comes back after a few days. Higgins said the PCR tests are assessed by Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp.

“We have done twice as many rapid [tests] as we have done PCR,” Higgins said. “The reason for that is to get the results as soon as possible so the student can isolate themselves from who they live with.”

Higgins said the worrisome part is if there are students who suspect that they are positive, but decide not to get tested. In these cases the Health Center cannot do contact tracing.