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Ohio colleges, universities recommended by state to conduct random COVID-19 testing on campuses

University of Akron
Posted at 2:49 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 23:10:10-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the state is recommending that all residential colleges and universities conduct regular random COVID-19 testing of a sample of the campus’ asymptomatic student population.

The recommendation to test a population of the student body is intended to provide college and university presidents and staff a better understanding of the spread of the virus on their campuses.

DeWine said the expectation is that each Ohio campus plans to screen at least 3% of their at-risk population.

The governor said increased testing is important as students return to campuses for the fall semester.

"Screening students who don’t have symptoms really gives college presidents and their team a real look at what’s happening on their campus," he said.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Director of Infection Control at Rainbow Hospital & Co-Director of University Hospitals, says doing these tests can help give Ohio a head start in the battle against coronavirus this winter, but testing would have to be done at least weekly for months for it work.

"Part of the problem throughout this entire pandemic has been the fact that we can’t test people as many as we’d like," Dr. Hoyen said. "[Governor DeWine's] not overwhelming the system I don’t think. He’s only asking that each college do three percent, which I think is reasonable for trying to get a sense of how many kids are asymptomatic."

David Parrilla, a music performance major at Cleveland State University, says he wouldn't mind having to take the test. The senior wanted to come back to an in-person classroom setting this year.

"It could be worse. It could definitely be worse," he said.

Some schools have already implemented increased testing and have gained a better understanding of where they stand in regards to COVID-19, including Miami University and The Ohio State University.

DeWine said the schools that have already implemented the increased testing on their campuses have had the ability to isolate positive cases and effectively contract trace to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The governor said the plan for random testing on college campuses is a recommendation and that there will be more formal guidance coming in the next several days.