September 15: 27 COVID-19 cases at SWOSU
By Johannes Becht
As of Tuesday, Sept 15, there are 27 COVID-19 cases among SWOSU students and faculty/staff. This number is made up of 22 Weatherford students, 2 Sayre students and 3 faculty members who have been tested positive for the coronavirus.
Initially, during the first two weeks in the Fall 2020 semester, the number of cases among Southwestern Oklahoma State University students was dropping from 25 (Aug 17) to 12 (Aug 24) to 6 (Aug 31), but that has changed. As of Sept 8, there were 20 student cases and 4 employee cases reported by the SWOSU Administration.
Despite several precaution measures such as hand sanitizer and face masks, the spread of COVID-19 among SWOSU students and employees cannot be entirely prevented. The 27 current active cases are the highest during Fall 2020.
The numbers need to be viewed in context. Students or employees who are infected have not necessarily been on campus. From the 25 students at the beginning of the semester, only 7 had actually been on campus. The following weeks, however, SWOSU did not release detailed information about infected students.
Brian Adler, Vice President of Public Relations & Marketing: "It’s our procedure to not release detailed information. All tracing involving any students involved will be handled by the Custer County Health Department."
That means it remains unclear how many of the 24 students and 3 employees, who were reported on Sept 15, have been on campus and how much contact they had with other students, faculty and staff.
On Friday, August 21, SWOSU President Randy Beutler had announced the following:
"In our commitment to provide full information to the students, faculty and staff, we present the following information about the current COVID-19 situation at SWOSU.
SWOSU will post the number of known active cases among students and employees each Monday on the COVID-19 case dashboard. The numbers are updated weekly after confirmation from health officials, the Office of Human Resources and the Dean of Students.
As of August 17, we have 0 known active employee cases and 25 known active student cases. It is important to note that an active case does not necessarily mean that the individual is currently on campus, has visited the campus while infected, or has ever been on campus.
We encourage people to view these numbers in context. As mentioned, some students who test positive may have never visited campus. For instance, of the 25 known active cases reported on August 17, only 7 were actually on campus. In addition, many of those cases reported on August 17 were already several days old and were reported and dealt with before classes actually started on campus.
Once a student or employee is identified as an active case, campus officials follow CDC and university protocol in advising the student or employee to isolate for 10-14 days.
We encourage people to visit the State Department of Health’s COVID-19 website -- https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/ -- for the OFFICIAL numbers of cases in each city and county in Oklahoma. These numbers are updated daily. As of August 21, Weatherford has 14 active cases.
Upon notification of a positive test, the Custer County Department of Health coordinates contact tracing efforts to determine people who may have been in close contact with the person who tested positive. The Department of Health works with SWOSU to identify and contact students or employees who may have been exposed.
Information about cases on campus can be obtained by calling the SWOSU Public Relations & Marketing Office at 580-774-3063.
We remind people that no matter where you live, we are all experiencing and dealing with a pandemic. We will have active cases on campus and deal with them accordingly. Every higher education institution in the country will also have this experience. That is why we have our safety protocols. Our mandates of masks, hand washing and social distancing are efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. They are in place to lessen the chance of a person with COVID-19 infecting others.
This information and other updates on the university’s pandemic response is located on the university’s COVID-19 website.