COVID outbreak strikes on campus

Rachel Greene , Editor-in-chief

As the first week of classes concludes, there is another new beginning on campus: the start of the Western Illinois University COVID-19 outbreak.

As students flooded back to campus for the start of the fall semester, there was no indication of mandatory testing to come. No announcement had been made by the University and students settled into on-campus housing without ever needing to acquire a test. Soon after students arrived on campus and began to congregate with their peers, however, optional, but highly recommended free saliva kits became available to all students.

Results of cases on campus remained fairly stagnant until Tuesday, when positive test results rose from two to 16. On Wednesday, that number rose again to 18. Currently 1,098 students have tested negative, 90 tests are pending results, 18 have tested positive, two have recovered and 16 cases remain active.

“The safety and health of our University community are of the utmost importance. We are working closely with our local health department to ensure others who may have been in contact are notified so they can take the proper precautions, face coverings, social distancing, frequent and proper hand washing and staying away from large gatherings are essential to minimize the spread of this virus. These precautions are essential measures that will reduce the spread of Coronavirus,” said Western Illinois University Interim President Martin Abraham.

The protocol when students receive a positive COVID-19 result is that they go into the campus Quarantine/Isolation center, which has been designated as Bayliss Hall. According to the Western Illinois University website, “Each student testing positive is assigned a case manager from staff of the Student Development and Success Center and Beu Health Center. Case managers will perform daily wellness checks, ensure meal delivery and work directly with faculty to assist students in continuing their courses. Faculty will be contacted for needed course materials. Federal health privacy laws prohibit sharing any other information.” Currently, 21 students are residing in the quarantine facility, which is 11.8 percent of the capacity. 157 spots remain open for students who test positive. If a student is wondering if a test is imperative for them, the University website reads, “Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms should get tested and then isolate until test results are returned. An updated list of symptoms reported among patients with COVID-19 includes mild to severe respiratory illness with fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of sense of taste and/or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. According to medical professionals, most people who contract coronavirus will be able to shelter in place at home, and recover uneventfully without hospitalization. This is especially true of traditional college age patients without underlying health conditions. If you develop severe symptoms such as struggling to breathe, blue lips, passing out or confusion, please seek immediate medical care.”

 Updates will continue to be posted daily on and in upcoming issues of our publication.