Benton County Fails Follow-Up with COVID-Positive OSU Student 

This past weekend, thousands of Oregon State University students moved onto the Corvallis campus. This year, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, new measures were taken to protect the school and the surrounding community during the move-in, including required COVID-19 testing.   

It was reported that 28 people tested positive for the virus and were given the option to go back home or stay in an isolation room on campus. One student told OPB that they have yet to hear answers from Benton County about their diagnosis and next steps.  

The student, Franklin Harding, tested positive Friday, Sept. 18 and has since returned to his home in Portland. Despite his results, Harding claims he has not heard about contact tracing from Benton County; OSU has called him twice about his diagnosis.   

Harding told OPB, “It’s really just kind of a scary experience to get tested positive for COVID and have basically no guidance or response.”  

Though he has not had guidance from Benton County, he reached out to OSU for advice and is currently self-quarantining away from his family at home. Oregon has set a goal to have county departments to reach out to those who test positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours of the result. In the six days since his diagnosis, Harding has heard nothing from Benton County.   

Benton County officials say they have a “rapid communication” cycle with Oregon State and that it meets Oregon’s 24-hour follow up standard 95 percent of the time, though they would not confirm whether or not the county had contacted Harding.  

Between July 1 and Sept. 16, OSU’s Corvallis campus has reported a total of 53 cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty, and staff, while OSU-Cascades has reported zero.   

Harding is concerned that others will experience the same issues he has with the process. He told OPB, “My concern with their whole process is how little information students are automatically opted into. I had to go seek information.”  

Luckily, Harding is mostly asymptomatic and is able to attend classes remotely from Portland.   

Throughout the rest of the term, OSU will be employing prevalence testing on campus, collecting up to 1,000 samples weekly across each of its three campuses. In Corvallis, the classes will be mostly remote, and at OSU-Cascades, about half will be a hybrid of remote and in-person teaching.   

By Cara Nixon