Explainer: What to do if you think you have COVID-19

With a total of 11 active cases and 66 people currently in quarantine or isolation as of Augustana’s Sept. 7 COVID-19 report, it is important to know the process a student goes through if they think they have the virus.

“What we want to do is clear up the unknowns,” said Rick Tupper, the Associate Vice President for Safety and Logistics, as well as the chair of Augustana’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment Team.

The first step in the process is getting the symptoms of COVID-19. According to Amy Meyers, the Augustana Employee Health Educator, if a student comes down with symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should contact the Campus Clinic.

From there, students would be referred to receive a COVID-19 test if the clinic staff think it’s necessary, Meyers said.

According to Tupper, students should pack a bag of essentials before they go to receive their test, as they won’t be able to return to campus until they get their results.

Once they receive their test, students will go to their quarantine space to await their results. These spaces include on-campus housing, such as empty theme houses and apartments, as well as off-campus housing, such as hotels.

Tupper also urged students to isolate at their homes if they have the capability.

If a student’s test result is negative, they can return to campus, but if it’s positive, they have to continue isolating themselves. According to Meyers, students with positive cases have to continue to isolate themselves for 10 days.

Students with meal plans will be sent meals while in isolation, Tupper said. 

Additionally, Meyers said that Augustana staff will be in contact with students to address their health. According to Tupper, staff will also contact the student to make sure their needs are met and that they’re doing alright.

Tupper said that the downfall of other schools’ COVID-19 procedure was that they didn’t have that follow up. “Once students went into isolation, [other schools] didn’t follow them, so the students felt abandoned,” Tupper said.

Tupper also said that student responses to Augustana’s follow-ups have been good.

If a student came into close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19, they will also have to go through a quarantining process. Tupper defined close contact as being within six feet of someone who tested positive for 15 minutes or more.

Meyers said that if exposed students are asymptomatic, it’s up to the clinic’s discretion on whether or not they will be tested. Regardless, exposed students will be sent to a quarantine space for 14 days, where their experience will be similar to students who tested positive.

Students who were exposed to someone who tested positive but weren’t within six feet for more than 15 minutes will not need to isolate themselves, but Tupper warned that they should self-monitor in case they start getting symptoms.

When it comes to how many cases Augustana can handle, Tupper said that there isn’t an exact threshold, but that the university is continuously assessing the availability of isolation spaces and hospital beds.

“What we look at is capacity, not only on campus, but hospital systems,” Tupper said. “As long as [available hospital beds] are looking stable, we monitor what capacity we have on-campus, and that is isolation space and quarantine space. As long as we can maintain those two, we don’t have to look at where else we would send people.”

Tupper said that the university’s capacity is made up of 21 on-campus locations, such as theme houses, as well as 30 off-campus locations, which are all located at a specific hotel. If those spaces were to fill up, Augustana would then work with other local hotels to utilize their spaces, according to Tupper.

Considering the current number of Augustana students in isolation or quarantine is nearly 50, many students have gone or are currently going through this process.

A female student who chose to remain anonymous tested positive for the virus and went through the process.

When she contacted the Campus Clinic, she said that she was put on hold for around 20 minutes before reaching someone who then referred her to get tested.

According to the student, while she was initially waiting for her test results, she was put up in a space that did not have internet access. Because of this, she had to move to a new location later that day.

Once she received her positive result, she was moved again to an off-campus location. The student said that the university’s justification was that they needed the on-campus locations for groups of students that were quarantining together.

Because the student couldn’t return to campus, her roommate had to pack everything she needed for her isolation.

While in isolation, the student said that she received little contact with people from administration or the Campus Clinic. Her only interactions were texts about her food and one call regarding her health throughout her whole isolation.

Additionally, the student said that she would occasionally wait more than an hour after ordering her food for it to arrive, and that sometimes it was cold by that point.

“I just felt very forgotten about,” the student said. “I know Augie is trying their best and that it’s a hard situation . . . but it seemed very unorganized.”

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