Kent State University hosted free, on-site COVID-19 testing on Sunday in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. Both students and local residents waited hours to get tested, with lines stretching from the university’s Manchester Field to Risman Plaza.
The Kent City Health Department, along with medics from the Ohio National Guard, delivered nasopharyngeal swab tests to anyone who wanted one, including students and residents.
The clinic was timed strategically before many Kent State students leave for Thanksgiving break the week of Nov. 23. Portage County remains in level three risk for COVID-19 exposure, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
Joan Seidel, health commissioner for the Kent City Health Department, shared the concern of students potentially spreading COVID-19 to their older family members over the holidays.
“We wanted to try and get results back to people before Thanksgiving,” Seidel said. “This is our third testing and we’ve had lines each time, so people are eager to get tested.”
Those who participated can expect to see their test results beginning on Wednesday at noon.
“For positives, we’ll double check and call them to make sure they understand the isolation period,” Seidel said.
Sophomore nursing student Abigail Mosbacher found the university’s testing process very efficient, with workers acting courteous toward the hundreds of students waiting in poor outside conditions.
“They did a very clever survey where they (went) down and asked everyone in the line, ‘in the past two weeks have you been really stressed,’” she said.
Mosbacher also noted that although she has been adhering to the safety guidelines, she wants to be cautious around her family members, who she’ll soon visit upon leaving campus this Friday.
“Clearly people aren’t always following the rules of wearing masks,” she said. “There’s ways to get COVID even if you are following all the rules.”
Columbus native Danny Callaghan, a junior communications student at Kent State, felt it was necessary to get tested after reading news about Ohio’s increasing virus case count.
“I didn’t want to run the risk of spreading the virus to my family over the holidays if I happened to have it,” he said.
However, Callaghan thought the university could’ve better accommodated busy students and residents with a quicker testing system.
“They could’ve spread this event out over a few days,” he said. “They also could’ve made the hours longer and could’ve had more testing areas.”
The Ohio Department of Health announced a record amount of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, along with a record 8,071 new cases on Friday. Gov. Mike DeWine has already said the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms could be possible in the coming weeks.
“We know that as the numbers of cases increase, two to three weeks later the death toll starts climbing,” Seidel said. “We already know that ICUs in hospitals are filling up, so it’s concerning how the health care system gets overwhelmed.”
According to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, ICU capacity in Portage County sits around 15% since recorded Nov. 10, with nearly 285 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Mason Lawlor covers the City of Kent. Contact him at email@example.com.
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