Coronavirus escalates on OSU campuses

By Cooper Baskins
A masked student walked around the Oregon State University Corvallis, Ore. campus. Even with masks only being mandatory outside when social distancing isn’t possible, students are continuing to take the extra step and wear them regardless.

Sienna Kaske, News Contributor

COVID-19 cases are increasing on the Corvallis and Cascade campuses and university administrators are navigating the health precautions and protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

As of Oct. 28, there has been 13 new cases with a cumulative of 146 positive COVID-19 cases for the Corvallis campus. The Oregon Health Authority has reported a total of 43,793 positive cases in the state and is projected to increase. 

OSU is following their Safety and Success Condition Levels Planning tool to assess and evaluate operation levels for all OSU campuses and extension services. Dan Larson, Vice-Provost for student affairs and OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator has been proactive in communicating updates to the OSU community. 

“OSU in Corvallis is operating at level 3. The most significant difficulties are related to the challenges we are all experiencing with not having more in-person engagement due to the pandemic and need to observe important public health measures and operate with low-density instruction, research and other forms of engagement on campus,” Larson said. 

COVID-19 on a college campus is bound to spread fast and while most have adhered to the current health protocols, some have not. 

“Since the start of fall term, the university has had to take swift and significant action against a number of students and student organizations who put themselves and others at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 by hosting large get-togethers, not wearing face coverings, and not observing Oregon Health Authority guidelines,” Larson stated via an all-student email update on Oct. 26.

The factors that play into how the university decides operation levels, depends on local and state mandates, county phase status and through voluntarily testing results from researchers at TRACE COVID-19

Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-level coronavirus Epidemics (TRACE) offers randomized COVID-19 testing and wastewater sampling to track the prevalence of coronavirus in the Corvallis, Bend and Hatfield Marine Science Center campuses. 

TRACE-COVID-19 tests about 1,000 students and faculty a week and participation is voluntary.  

Mixtli Rodriguez Cardoso, student and testing instructor for TRACE, notes that “OSU has been doing an extraordinary job at pushing and following public health guidelines; a great example is the #BeavsCover campaign to encourage and reinforce the use of facemasks on our campus to ensure we keep our community safe.”

You can participate in the The OSU Wellness-Agents #BeavsCover Campaign by following them on Instagram and through filling out their face cover survey to be eligible to win a $50 Beaver Store Gift Card.

“Another highlight that I want to bring up is that for first-year move-in day, I was able to work with TRACE and assist with testing for every student that chose to move into our residential dorms. What this means to me is that OSU has been able to go beyond to ensure that we’re keeping our community safe in contrast to national measures implemented at other universities,” Cardoso said. 

While Benton County was taken off of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 watchlist, Associated Students of Oregon State University President Isabel Nuñez-Pérez reminds us that “it’s up to us to take things seriously and to care about one another. The best thing we can do is wear a mask and keep distance from one another.”

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