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So Listen: Ohio University got COVID-19 testing all wrong

We are living through a pandemic. These words used to hold weight and seemed scary but at this point they sound like a cliche. We’ve been riding out this pandemic for the past six months now. This seems to be the new way of life. If we ever want to get out of this quarantine nightmare, it is going to take the continuation of the hard work most people have been putting in: wearing masks, social distancing and getting tested when we have been exposed.

Ohio University is providing testing to students, but they aren’t testing students who are worried they may have it: they are testing large numbers of students who have been chosen randomly.

I was one of the students who was picked to go through this process of testing. On Sunday, I received an email that told me I had to get tested within 48 hours. While I understand the importance of testing, getting this email left me a little irritated. I had gotten tested in Logan, Ohio, which is about a 30-minute drive from campus, just days prior because I had come in contact with someone who tested positive. My results came back negative, and given that I had come in contact with virtually no one since my test, I knew that my test results from OU would be the same: negative. 

I am not a “Phase 2” student, meaning all of my classes are online, and the university should be under the assumption that I am home. I do happen to currently be in Athens living in off-campus housing, but I was confused as to how they knew that I would be available for testing. I had a lot of questions as to exactly why I was chosen to get tested, and I know a lot of the other students who were chosen to get tested had the same questions. 

According to Carly Leatherwood, executive director of communications for OU, 482 students were emailed that they needed to be tested. Students that received the emails had used their student ID’s at some point on campus from Aug. 24 to now, which is how they knew who was on campus and who wasn’t. 

“While it is the intention of the University to test all students that have a presence in Athens/on campus over the course of the semester, this is subject to availability of testing supplies, the ability to schedule the anticipated volume of tests and need for shifting of resources.” Leatherwood said in an email.

Lots of students suffered through long wait times when they got tested. I got tested at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and personally the process was pretty smooth. The test was self-administered and one of the physicians walked me through how to do it. The people working there were wiping down surfaces often and all had PPE on. I had my negative test results and left by 5:15 p.m.

Overall, I didn’t hate the process. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt as to why they were behind on the first day: they were probably just not in the flow of how to test so many people so quickly. What I do hate about the process though, is that choosing random people to test is a waste of time and equipment. I knew I was going to test negative; I had tested negative literally five days prior. 

Instead of force-testing random students to inflate the ratio of negative to positive tests, OU should be pushing testing for students who have either been exposed or have symptoms. I had my test results immediately after I got tested. Having an on-campus option would have been nice when I actually was exposed; it would have saved me a 30-minute drive out to Logan. Mass-random testing is a waste of money and is sadly yet another ball that OU has dropped during this pandemic. 

Mikayla Rochelle is a senior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.

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