OSU Move-In Connected to Benton County COVID Spike

Oregon Health Authority reported the highest single-day total of coronavirus cases in Benton County this past Saturday, Sept. 19. Another seven cases were reported Sunday.  

The 27 newly reported cases brought the county total to 278. Previously, the county had not exceeded 10 cases in a single day. 

Health Department officials have attributed the surge in positive coronavirus test results to students moving onto campus at Oregon State University. While the vast majority of classes will be remote this fall, around 2,500 students are expected to live in OSU dorms starting this past Friday. Off campus students are self-administering COVID tests on a volunteer basis, in addition to mandatory testing for all on-campus residents.   

Benton County health officials have also have also told media outlets that much of the testing has been done on those displaying symptoms of the virus, and caution that many asymptomatic could infect others unknowingly. Health officials still strongly recommend social distancing, proper mask use, and good hygiene.    

An OSU spokesman said around 1,175 students were tested in a two-day period. Students who test positive for the coronavirus are either isolated in a special dorm or can quarantine at home. 

OHA reported another death and 208 new presumptive cases of COVID in the state as of Sunday, Sept. 20. Oregon has lost 526 people to the coronavirus, including six Benton County residents.    

0Below is a letter from OSU President F. King Alexander:  

Monday, September 21, 2020 

OSU faculty, staff and students, 

I am writing to share COVID-19 testing results from the third day of students moving into our residential halls on our Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses. 

Testing continues to go very smoothly. In my daily visits to the Corvallis testing site, parents and students continue to praise the professional and supportive assistance they are receiving from staff working in University Housing and Dining Services, Student Health Services, Transportation Services and all university volunteers. The move-in process at our OSU-Cascades campus residence hall has also gone very smoothly. 

Parents and students are thankful for OSU being proactive and contributing to a safer university community and advancing personal health. They recognize OSU is providing personal health information through testing that these students otherwise would not have had access to unless they developed COVID-19 symptoms. OSU’s positive test case results from move-in are being provided to local county health authorities and the Oregon Health Authority, thereby allowing important contact tracing to occur in a student’s home community. 

Here is an overview of the past three days of move-in testing: 

CORVALLIS 

   FRIDAY  SATURDAY  SUNDAY  TOTAL 
Total students tested   730  479  488  1,697 
Positive cases  24  0  2  26 
Positive cases isolated on campus             13  0  2  15 
Positive cases returning home                    11  0  0  11 

Over three days, the 26 cases represent 1.53% of incoming students having tested positive. On Monday and Tuesday, we anticipate another 450 or so OSU Corvallis students participating in move-in. 

OSU-Cascades 

   FRIDAY  SATURDAY  SUNDAY  TOTAL 
Total students tested   14  81  32  127 
Positive cases  0  0  0  0 
Positive cases isolated on campus             0  0  0  0 
Positive cases returning home                    0  0  0  0 

On Monday through Thursday, we anticipate another 20 or so OSU-Cascades students participating in move-in. 

During fall term, we will provide similar weekly updates sharing results from TRACE OSU prevalence testing and wastewater monitoring that begin the week of Sept. 28 on our campuses in Corvallis and Bend and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. We also will share weekly updates from TRACE Community wastewater monitoring that will take place in the Corvallis, Bend and Newport communities through fall. Results will be communicated on a dashboard located on a combined TRACE OSU and Trace Community website that will launch early this week. 

Sincerely, 

King Alexander

President