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University reminds community to test for COVID-19, report cases and exposures

Published: May 19, 2022 Author: Staff reports

With an increase in COVID-19 cases among Ohio University community members, Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, and Ken Johnson, chief medical affairs officer, ask that students, faculty, and staff take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 on OHIO campuses.

  • Test before attending large gatherings and consider wearing a mask
  • Follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol if you test positive for COVID-19, experience symptoms, or have a known exposure
  • Don’t come to campus or attend events if you are not feeling well
  • Let close contacts know if you test positive for COVID-19

“The virus is on the rise among our campus communities. We continue to see small outbreaks, often associated with gatherings,” Ice said. “None of us wants to get sick or get others sick. Testing for COVID-19, reporting positive tests, and informing people we may have infected are easy things we can do to prevent spreading the virus.”

Be careful when attending gatherings and meetings

It is prudent to take an asymptomatic COVID-19 test before attending gatherings or indoor meetings. Consider wearing a mask at large gatherings or indoor meetings.

Home tests are available for pick-up on all OHIO campuses. OHIO faculty and staff who are enrolled in the University’s PPO plans have two options for covering the costs of at-home COVID-19 tests, up to eight tests per month per covered family member. Individuals covered by Medicare and Medicaid also can get tests for free. Additionally, the federal government recently announced that every home in the United States is eligible to order a third round of free at-home COVID-19 tests, eight per household this time.

“I recommend keeping a stockpile of tests on hand at home so that you have them when you need them,” Ice said.

The state of Ohio offers this tool for locating testing resources in all Ohio counties. Included are private companies and retail sites, community health centers, and libraries and other local partners that offer access to COVID-19 testing.

Follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol

OHIO community members are required to follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol if they test positive for COVID-19, experience symptoms, or have a known exposure. 

Those experiencing symptoms will be asked to schedule a COVID-19 test with a health care provider. Although using an at-home antigen test is an option, it is important to note that antigen tests are not as accurate as tests available through health care providers. 

“We have seen many instances of individuals testing negative on a home test on day four or five after exposure, and then testing positive on another home test the next day,” Johnson said. “If you are experiencing symptoms and test negative on an antigen test, please get tested by a health care provider, and follow isolation instructions in the meantime.”

If you test positive on an at-home test, you should report it through the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol. Johnson also recommends following up with your primary care provider to see if you are eligible for any treatment options based on age and other health-related criteria.

Inform close contacts that you have tested positive

If you test positive for COVID-19, letting your close contacts know that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 will help protect them and others in the community. Close contacts are at greatest risk of infection and therefore need to be notified as soon as possible so that they can monitor for symptoms, get tested, and wear a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19.

Close contacts are people you have been around (less than six feet away for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) during the two-day period before you first had symptoms or if you do not have symptoms, during the two days before you tested positive for COVID-19 through to the time you started isolation. 

A template is available for OHIO community members to use when informing close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as an explanation of the timeline for masking and testing if exposed to COVID-19. There is also an online tool available for those who prefer to anonymously inform close contacts of a COVID-19 exposure. You can inform close contacts via call, text, or email.