SWOSU COVID-19 update: vaccinations, tests, and current precautions
Updated: Feb 7
By Sydnie Balcer
For The Southwestern
SWOSU is keeping up a lot of its COVID-19 precautions from the fall semester, as well as offering COVID-19 vaccinations in the Pioneer Cellular Event Center.
SWOSU has begun offering COVID-19 vaccines in the Pioneer Cellular Event Center every Friday and is currently vaccinating those over age 65.
Many SWOSU students are participating in the effort to get vaccinations out, including nursing and pharmacy students giving injections and allied health students helping with the data entry.
“People have been very impressed with the way SWOSU is running things,” SWOSU Vice President and Provost James South said.
SWOSU is currently vaccinating over 1,000 people every Friday, and South said some have even been coming to SWOSU from places as far as Tulsa to receive vaccinations due to its efficiency.
Oklahoma residents can sign up for an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination via the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s website, which will let them know what category or phase they are in to receive their vaccine. According to South, the speed at which the SWOSU population overall will be able to get vaccinated will depend completely on the supply.
In addition to vaccinations, SWOSU has received more COVID-19 tests to use this semester.
“We received about 4,400 quick COVID tests that will expire in mid-March,” South said. “We’re using those to test athletes ourselves.”
South hopes to use remaining COVID tests for student volunteers living in the dorms in order to find asymptomatic people. This procedure would go hand-in-hand with the monitoring of dorm wastewater, which SWOSU began doing last fall.
“Some dorms had virtually zero infection,” South said. “Some were higher, and we’re thinking about testing the dorm without infection.”
According to South, there is still a possibility that students could go online this semester despite vaccines because of new variants of COVID-19 that are more transmissible.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently knows of three different variants of COVID-19 circling globally: one in the United Kingdom, one in South Africa, and one in Brazil. According to the CDC, “These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.”
There’s currently no evidence that these variants are any more deadly than others, but they could increase the strain on hospitals.
As of Feb. 2, 2021, there were 26 active student and 6 active employee cases of COVID-19 on the Weatherford and Sayre campus. For the most up-to-date information about cases at SWOSU, students, employees, and faculty can visit SWOSU’s COVID-19 website.
South wants to emphasize the importance of continuing to follow COVID-19 precautions as students kick off the spring semester.
“Keep doing safe things and wearing masks, especially off-campus,” South said. “Students need to keep working to end the pandemic.”