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Dr. Dennis Goodman, chief medical officer of Missouri S&T, sent the following message to the campus community on Aug. 27:
Dear S&T family,
We are in the middle of a battle with an enemy that we can’t see. Fortunately, we have been preparing to face the conflict with COVID-19 for six months. I am confident that we have prepared well, that we will learn lessons from other universities, and that we will reemerge stronger. We know the enemy’s strengths, where it threatens and where its weaknesses are. We have prepared a solid strategy that can lead us on the road to success.
I can report that none of the over 1,700 students who arrived early from Aug. 15-17 presented with symptoms as they were screened on arrival. None developed symptoms of the virus in the following days, and none have tested positive. The viral incubation period is 2-14 days from exposure, knowing that 97.5% of individuals exposed to a sufficient dose of virus will develop symptoms in 11.5 days. This group has now been on campus long enough that I am confident that there is little outside virus incubating in this group.
The majority of S&T students arrived the following week. This was a much larger group. We did anticipate some virus in this population; it was unavoidable as students arrived from other areas with increased viral presence. We asked this group to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms and fever at home for seven days prior to arrival. This strategy identified multiple students with symptoms including fever. They were instructed to stay home and delay their arrival for two weeks.
The students were asked to self-report symptoms, use the Campus Screen app (download for Android or IOS), and report illness or fever immediately. This strategy to date has identified 13 individuals who have tested positive for the virus. Each individual was interviewed for contacts, and we now have close to 200 students in quarantine.
This identifies a significant problem. If students were consistently practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings, this number should have been much lower. The size of the net that we cast to contain the virus depends on each of us practicing our Miner Pledge. We can do better, and we will do better. Let’s not give the virus a window. Let’s keep our S&T family safe.
This second group of students will not be out of their incubation period for another 10 days, and it is critical that we use the virus’s weaknesses to put the enemy down. We know that this virus cannot pass effectively though masks and has difficulty spreading at six feet, so continue to wear your face coverings and maintain social distance. This period is critical. This period also includes an upcoming weekend during which we may be tempted to travel. This could set us back, so please reconsider any travel plans outside of Rolla.
We are now actively testing students for virus in the student health services (SHS) clinic with same-day results. We are also testing students with no symptoms to gauge the asymptomatic presence of the virus in our community. I will report that to date, with much more sampling to be done, that there are no positive cases in our random testing of students who have no symptoms. Please be aware that we have a dedicated group of contact tracers working long hours to identify contacts of positive cases.
We recognize that students are the largest part of our S&T family, but we also need to care for staff and faculty. We are actively advising and contact tracing our staff and faculty populations and will soon offer them the same-day testing that is available to students.
My team cannot do this without your help. We need you to help us contain the spread of the virus by actively and consistently limiting your contacts. Only then can we defeat this virus and get back to the normal that we all remember.
Help us win this fight by implementing these practices, including:
Together, Miners can win this fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Dennis Goodman
Chief Medical Officer