OSU President: Reason for ‘cautious optimism’ as COVID-19 positivity rates drop


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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — During Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing, Ohio State University President Dr. Kristina Johnson joined Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to provide an update on how the coronavirus is being dealt with at OSU and steps the university is taking to slow the spread of the virus.

The first full week of classes started the week of Aug. 24 with approximately 20,000 students receiving some form of face-to-face instruction, including approximately 12,000 students living on campus and approximately 8,000 living off campus.

Dr. Johnson said the school decided to enhance its testing by focusing on three groups: students who live on campus, students who live off campus and come to campus for classes and faculty and staff who interact with students in person.

Dr. Johnson said the university has tested about 40,000 students since Aug. 24 with about 1,500 students testing positive and 25 staff members testing positive.

“This isn’t just a flat rate. It’s gone up. The on campus positivity rate peaked in and around August 28th or 29th,” Dr. Johnson said. “The fact that it has dropped . . . is a reason for cautious optimism.”

Dr. Johnson did express concern for positivity rates occurring off campus with approximately 11 percent of students living off campus testing positive last week. But that number has dropped below six percent this week giving Buckeyes another reason for cautious optimism.

“We need our off campus students, faculty, staff and individuals in Columbus to be vigilant wearing masks because wearing the mask, staying socially vigilant, it really works,” Dr. Johnson said.

Gov. DeWine also praised Dr. Johnson, her team and OSU’s efforts in doing this testing and constantly releasing the results.

“I think what is going on at Ohio State is instructive because you are doing a very, very significant amount of testing,” DeWine said. “You have a very good feel for what is going on and I think that might be helpful to other places, colleges, universities who might not have the capability to do the testing that you are doing.”

Aside from testing, Dr. Johnson said OSU has also committed itself to thorough contact tracing.

“When a student or faculty member tests positive, we start contact tracing immediately so then we’re able to isolate and quarantine those individuals that needed to be isolated and quarantined or treated,” Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson also praised the OSU student life organization led by Dr. Melissa Shivers.

“It’s just been outstanding,” Dr. Johnson said. “She’s really engaged the community on Together as Buckeyes.”

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