COVID-19 off-campus safety and testing rumors at Notre Dame

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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It is the first week of classes at the University of Notre Dame and we’re taking a look at how the university is keeping students and the community safe from COVID-19.

There seems to be some confusion on several issues regarding testing available to students, and the university wants to set the record straight. Notre Dame also addressing their message to students with regard to staying safe and healthy off-campus.

”We really hope that the university is working on messaging, kind-of encouraging people to double down on these mitigation strategies,” Dr Mark Fox Deputy Health Officer with St. Joseph County Health Department says.

The university says they are putting out the right message, like signs on the edge of campus that say students’ responsibilities don’t stop there. Safety on-campus needs to be practiced off-campus with face coverings, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.

“We emphasize to the students that it’s not only a threat to themselves, but to their friends and people around them, and people in the community, and we think for the most part we are getting that message across,” Paul Browne says. He is the Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at Notre Dame.

”Many of the cases identified at Notre Dame to this point all seem to have a common exposure at an off-campus gathering,” Dr. Fox says.

The Notre Dame COVID-19 dashboard shows an increase in cases everyday since classes began on Monday August 10th. A total of 29 positive cases since August 3rd. Nearly 350 tests have been given, and the university says the testing process is a point of confusion for many students, sparking rumors.

Here’s what you need to know according to the university.

The following rumors are false:

If you live off campus you can't get a test.

Tests results are taking around 10 days to get back.

Some students are being denied testing.

Here are the facts:

Off campus students are allowed to be tested on campus.

There’s only a 1-2 day turnaround for test results.

There are plenty of tests and they are given out on a case-by-case basis, based on the symptoms of the student. For example if a student has a headache and fears they may have COVID, they may not be tested as a headache is not an obvious sign of the virus. That student may be asked to monitor their symptoms to see if any other signs of COVID occur before being given a test.

If a student tests positive at an off-campus site, those results are still reported to the university and added to the dashboard.

Testing or not, the focus is on prevention.

Browne "They have to take care of each other and take care of other people you encounter whether its in South bend or on campus."

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