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Ohio – Students report long wait times, confusion at COVID-19 testing locations

Some on and off-campus Ohio University students reported frustrations with the process of OU’s asymptomatic COVID-19 testing after receiving emails notifying them they must be tested.

A number of tweets made by students who went to testing locations said the locations were understaffed, causing long wait times, and it was unclear where to go to get tested. 

@ohiou the pop-up testing sites are grossly unorganized, understaffed and the instructions sent out to those randomly selected were so vague, some people couldn’t even find where they were supposed to go. Once again, you’ve made the students here victims of your poor planning.

— Alex (@WillWheatthins) September 21, 2020

OU has partnered with CVS Health to administer the COVID-19 tests. Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said there was an “excellent turnout” on the first day of testing.

“While we were pleased by the response, we understand that there was some understandable frustration with the wait time, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Leatherwood said in an email. “We are learning as we go in this unprecedented situation, and we thank everyone for their patience as we work out the specifics in our system.”

Leatherwood said if students were not able to complete their test due to long wait times, they should email COVIDoperations@ohio.edu to reschedule an appointment. 

I had an appointment at 9:30 this morning. I was there for at least an hour and a half. And the amount of people in the hallway that OU called a “well-ventilated area” as more and more people kept coming was a little whack.

— alicia (@aliciaburdette) September 21, 2020

CVS Health also released a statement and apologized for any inconvenience students may have experienced. 

“We have taken immediate steps to help ensure a seamless experience for those being tested, and look forward to continuing to help Ohio University achieve its important goals during these unprecedented times,” according to the statement.

Ari Kocab, a junior studying anthropology, is living off-campus and was chosen to participate in random testing. Kocab said she does believe off-campus students should still be tested for COVID-19 because they are still involved on campus.

“‘Off-campus’ is just people who are not in a dorm and it is not related to who encounters who,” Kocab said in an email. 

Kocab said besides missing a class because of the long wait times, getting tested was ultimately worth it.

“They were an hour behind when I first arrived, and then it took about 15-30 minutes to be checked-in, tested, and handed our results,” she said in an email. “We had to swab our own noses with a healthcare worker instructing us on how to.”

She said the workspaces were thoroughly sanitized, and everyone was kept 6 feet apart, but there’s some room for improvement. Kocab said there should have been more than one testing room open.

“Even though it was only supposed to take 15 minutes, all the 12:45 pm appointments were in one place instead of four, so it took an hour and a half,” she said in an email.

Kocab said she is pessimistic about the situation improving with more students coming to Athens for Phase 2. She is worried it will be too difficult to monitor the behaviors of that many people, and they could have COVID-19 and be asymptomatic. Underclassmen who are looking for the full “college experience” may also break social distancing guidelines by partying, she said. 

“I wish I could be positive about Phase 2, but honestly, I am worried about the number of people coming back on campus, and the ones already here,” she said in an email.



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