Message from Environmental Health & Safety Director, David Oliver -Information Regarding WKU Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- David E. Oliver
- Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
WKU has engaged with key partners in the areas of public health and health care delivery to support critical aspects of the Big Red Restart. Today, I’d like to share with you an important update on COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and quarantine.
TESTING: Graves Gilbert Clinic (GGC) will provide both PCR (live virus) and antibody tests on campus beginning August 3rd, In the interim, testing is available at all other GGC offices 7 days a week. According to Chris Thorn, CEO of Graves Gilbert Clinic, “GGC is the largest independent physician group in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has provided comprehensive healthcare to the faculty, staff and students of WKU for the last 6 years.” Testing is currently available if individuals meet one of the criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or Kentucky Department of Public Health or as ordered by a physician. Criteria include:
- Individual displays symptoms consistent with those identified for COVID-19 infections
- Individual has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
- Individual is identified by public health through contact tracing as likely exposed to an infected person
- Physician orders a test based on identified risk factors or prior to a medical procedure
Currently, test results for either live virus or antibodies are back within two and four days. For employees and their dependents who are covered under the WKU Employee Health Plan, the following costs have been waived:
- Member cost-share (copay, coinsurance and deductibles) for the diagnostic test related to COVID-19, as well as for visits associated with COVID-19 testing, throughout the public health emergency;
- Member cost-share for in-network telehealth visits, including visits for behavioral health and select physical, occupational and speech therapies through September 13, 2020;
- Member cost-share for in-network providers on treatment of COVID-19 through December 31, 2020.
Some universities have elected to require PCR testing of all incoming students. WKU has not chosen this approach based on consultation with our partner physicians and the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Testing.
Additionally, WKU is working closely with GGC to provide a rapid test option with local laboratory processing that may drastically reduce the wait time for results. When these plans are finalized, information will be communicated to all employees.
CONTACT TRACING: The Barren River District Health Department in concert with the Kentucky Department of Public Health is responsible for conducting contact tracing of potential and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area. In the case of our Elizabethtown and Owensboro campuses, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, along with the health departments in Hardin and Daviess Counties, will conduct the contact tracing.
All positive test results are automatically communicated to the state contact tracing group. This includes tests for individuals in other states who may identify people residing in Kentucky as potential contacts. WKU will cooperate fully with our public health partners to assist with contact tracing while protecting the privacy of our faculty, staff, and students in accordance with applicable government regulations.
QUARANTINE: WKU faculty, staff and students who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus, have been contacted by public health and directed to quarantine, or have traveled to a state or country that is covered by a travel restriction issued from the Office of the Governor, are required to self-quarantine for the prescribed period, typically 14 days, and contact GGC or your personal healthcare provider for guidance. https://kentucky.gov/Pages/Activity-stream.aspx?n=CHFS&prId=281
We ask that all members of the WKU community answer the call if a public health representative reaches out to you. The representative will provide verification of their identity and direct you on appropriate actions to take, which may include self-quarantine, testing, etc.
To support our Big Red Restart and Healthy on the Hill plans, we need all members of the WKU Community to help prevent the spread of the virus. Wear your mask, stay 6 feet apart, and perform your daily health checks. Together, we can be successful operating alongside COVID-19.
Finally we are developing resources to address questions from our entire campus community.
Below are some questions regarding the quarantine of students that reside in on-campus housing:
Q. Will students be able to return home to quarantine or do they have to remain on campus?
A. Yes, students may return home for a required quarantine.
Q. How will students be provided necessities (food, medical care) while in quarantine if they remain on campus?
A. Students residing on campus who elected to stay on campus for their quarantine will be housed in designated spaces on campus. WKU Housing and Residence Life has assigned a coordinator to support students required to quarantine. Medical care will be provided by Graves Gilbert Clinic at their on-campus location or through telehealth with an on-call provider.
WKU Counseling staff will make regular contact with the students. Aramark has developed a web-based system for students quarantined on campus to make meal selections that will be managed through the student’s meal plan or other existing university account. Meals will be packaged individually and delivered by a staff member. Other necessities, such as toiletries, that are found in campus stores will be available for delivery.
Q. Once tested, will students be immediately pulled from their residence halls or do they remain until they receive their results?
A. If a student residing in on-campus housing is contacted by public health and directed to quarantine, and are asymptomatic, theywill initially remain in their assigned room. WKU will evaluate the case with direction from public health and make a decision on appropriate housing locations.
Students who are symptomatic, or test positive for COVID-19, will be immediately moved to a designated quarantine location on campus. Provisions have been made to assist the students with a relocation to campus quarantine space, and to support their needs throughout the quarantine period as previously noted.
In all cases where students are directed by public health to quarantine, they will have the option to return home for the quarantine period.
Q. How will notes/tests for in-person classes missed be handled?
A. Absences of students forced to miss class for health reasons may not negatively impact the students’ progress/grade in courses.
We are here to help guide you and answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Below is important contact information to keep handy:
WKU COVID-19 website www.wku.edu/covid19
WKU Healthy at Work Officers: (270) 745-2019
Department of Environmental Health and Safety: (270) 745-2395
WKU COVID-19 Information Line: (270) 745-2019
David E. Oliver
David E. Oliver Ed.D, CSP, CEM
Director Environmental Health and Safety