Wabash College has been innovative in its approach to COVID-19.
Wabash College has been innovative in its approach to COVID-19.
Local COVID-19 spike may not be what it seems
Montgomery County has hit a bit of a speed bump in the battle against COVID-19. This week, the Montgomery County Health Department announced 20 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery County. Of that, 14 are students at Wabash College.
Combined with the recent outbreak from Bickford Senior Living, it gives the county a spike in numbers.
However, part of the spike may not be what it seems.
Now that Wabash College students have returned to campus, they are included in Montgomery County’s data collected by the Indiana State Department of Health dashboard.
“Wabash is not alone in dealing with the challenge of communal living during the COVID pandemic,” Wabash President Scott E. Feller said. “News reports from both IU and Purdue indicate similar situations. The College has responded with a protocol of rapid mass testing last week at the first detection of the disease, and the aggressive isolation and quarantine of residents. We are also testing a larger percentage of its student body than most colleges and universities in Indiana with a goal of detecting asymptomatic cases before they spread to multiple individuals. And we are benefiting from strong leadership among students who are carrying out critically important peer education on healthy practices.”
A spokesman for the county’s health department reports that the college has been innovative and adaptive in its approach to address COVID-19. In addition to common mitigation strategies (social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands/hygiene, etc.), a surveillance program at the college has been successful in identifying students with COVID-19. The program includes random testing and an app used to monitor symptoms of students and staff.
Students who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and cared for by staff on campus. Close contacts identified through contact tracing are sent home in most cases to quarantine.
Like the recent cluster identified at Bickford Senior Living, the positive cases of students at Wabash College are related to communal living clusters, such as dormitories and fraternities. Other colleges and universities are dealing with similar challenges among their student body.
According to the state health department, Montgomery County now has 452 total cases, with 21 fatalities. In the surrounding counties, Hendricks has 2,391 cases and 113 deaths, Tippecanoe has 1,634 and 13 deaths, Boone County has 867 and 46, Clinton 561 and 11, Putnam 438 and 8, Fountain has 98 and 2 and Parke 80 and 2.