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Boise State battles rising positive COVID-19 cases on campus

Boise State University has seen an influx of COVID-19 cases since Aug. 15 and is putting forth efforts to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure student and staff safety.

Allison Kurtin, sophomore and political science major, shared her experience with quarantine on campus. Kurtin was urged to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who had symptoms of COVID-19. Kurtin remained quarantined in the Sawtooth Hall from Sept. 1 through Sept. 8. 

“I’d say it was OK at the beginning just because I had a lot of stuff to do. I kind of used that time to get ahead on homework and get fully moved in,” Kurtin said. “It was stressful though because I had to call out of four shifts at work. During the last couple of days, I would say I was getting more anxious just being in the same spot for so long.”

According to Kurtin, Boise State was helpful and communicative while transitioning to a quarantined lifestyle. The university emailed Kurtin’s professors and explained her situation, ensuring communication across the board. Kurtin was also given the option to receive daily meals from Boise State or have someone deliver her groceries for the week. 

Kurtin shares her dorm room with one other person, which includes sharing high-touch areas like bathroom facilities. According to Kurtin, Boise State advised her to clean and thoroughly wipe down all surfaces after each use, to ensure student safety. 

While she believes Boise State did a good job communicating with her, Kurtin thinks the university could use some improvement with others who are quarantined. 

“One thing I think they [Boise State] should do is monitor other people to make sure everyone who is quarantining is. I would like to see Boise State be in more communication with those people so they can track it easier and if it did spread, they would know where it came from,” Kurtin said.

The university has introduced a COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard, which allows the university to track positive coronavirus cases and stay up-to-date. The dashboard breaks cases down into three categories: residential students, off-campus students, and faculty and staff.

As of Sept. 11, there have been 90 total positive coronavirus cases related to Boise State out of a campus population of 14,696, which makes 1.10% of the population to test positive for the coronavirus. 

Currently, Boise State has a COVID-19 testing center located at University Health Services. Walk-ins are welcome and those who are symptomatic of COVID-19, or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive are encouraged to stay home and self quarantine.

According to Boise State Public Radio, Dr. Mark Nassir, president of Saint Alphonsus Medical Group said in an interview that public health experts are practicing formal contact tracing. 

“So we know that when we do formal contact tracing — so that’s when public health experts follow up on positive cases and do the investigation and connect with each other and start to trace and test, we can find that some of the areas of transmission were absolutely linked to gatherings,” Nassir said. “And that might be gatherings in different venues, sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors, where there was either a known positive or later it was found out one of the people in that group was positive. And then there was a significant amount of spread to others in that group.”

It is unclear how Boise State is reporting positive coronavirus cases to the state. Chad Crippe, assistant editor at The Idaho Statesman, said in a tweet that cases will be counted by county residence. Meaning, if a student is from Pocatello and tests positive at Boise State, this case will be counted toward Pocatello’s case numbers. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is continuously updating this information. 

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