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MU faculty discuss university’s COVID-19 response with leaders


The University of Missouri Faculty Council met with school leaders and health officials on Thursday to talk about COVID-19 on campus.

The meeting provided faculty and staff the opportunity to ask questions to UM System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi, as well as MU health leaders about the university's response to the pandemic.

Some of the topics discussed included how the university handles tests and what the testing process looks like for students.

Many questions were asked about why students are only getting tested if they are symptomatic or are known to be a close contact.

Choi said that testing every single student will not reveal all that are infected. 

"There is a sense that when the test is performed," Choi said. "Especially on everybody, that gives a snapshot, that test may not reveal all of those who are who are going to be infected, but the test itself does not reveal. But it also gives us a false sense of security, knowing that a test came back negative that everyone's going to be going about their business as usual."

Choi said the university focuses a lot on the Boone County's COVID-19 dashboard to make decisions and get confirmation of students who test positive for the virus.

Choi said once the university is aware of a student testing positive the university’s task force then investigates who is considered a close contact.

Then, its case investigators and contact tracers begin the process of investigating who had contact with the person that tested positive.

MU Health Care Infectious Disease Specialist Stevan Whitt said there are many times when people get tested within the first few days after being exposed to COVID-19 that come back negative.

“Even in those cases you miss," Whitt said. "Especially in the first five days, almost as many cases as you catch."

Whitt said “testing does not prevent cases.” He said people need to start seeing everyone as infectious so they will stay socially distant and follow those safety precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Scott Henderson with MU Public Health said that many students want to get tested so they can return to regular everyday activities, but that the university is not using that kind of test strategy because a doctor's order is required to be tested.

“There are medical conditions that present like COVID that we need to make sure it's not," Henderson said. "And to test at the request of a patient... you need to put some clinical judgment to it, because on the backside to them you need to determine what are you going to do with that result, wants you obtain it.”

MU Health Care recommends students that are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate, call their health provider and begin monitoring symptoms, then to call the student health center to give your information and answer some questions. 

Choi said the university works directly with the Columbia and Boone County Health Department to get confirmation of any students that test positive, but faculty and staff are different due to HIPPA.

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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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