First coronavirus cases appear on campus

Written By Jordyn Hronec

As of Monday, Sept. 21, there have been six confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the university.

Four of the six positive cases are from commuter students. Two residential students have tested positive. According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Monday, 27 of the university’s set aside quarantine spaces were being used. However, over the past weekend, the number of quarantine spaces used was at 42, after a COVID-19 scare sent the entire cross country team and their roommates into isolation while awaiting test results. The student in question ultimately tested negative.

“My quarantine experience only lasted about two and a half days, and I felt uncertain about what was happening most of the time,” Bailee Gazdag, a sophomore sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major, said. “Two of my roommates are on the cross country team, and on Friday afternoon, they were told that one of the members of the team was showing symptoms of COVID-19 and they would be cancelling their meet. My roommates were instructed to quarantine immediately and were given very little information regarding what I and the other roommates were meant to do.”

Gazdag also stated that the quarantine experience “wasn’t terrible” but that there was a lack of communication between the university and the students, partially due to the student health center being closed on the weekends.

The university is urging any student who needs testing to contact the health center.

“A student will present, or be presented, to the health center, and the health center then does a telehealth visit with a doctor,” Dean of Student Affairs, Keith Paylo, said. “This is part of the entire protocol…and they’ll go down a litany of questions, such as symptoms, and how they’re feeling, and what’s their temperature, and all those kinds of things. And then that doctor will determine whether they are meeting the criteria for a test.”

According to Paylo, after an initial consultation with a doctor, if it is determined that a COVID-19 test is needed, students will be sent to the UPMC Health Center on the Southside of Pittsburgh. Paylo clarified that transportation to and from the UPMC testing site on the Southside would be provided for students, and that a COVID-19 test would come at no cost to the students. 

For students who may get tested through their primary care physician or another medical office separate from the university, they should notify the health center in the case of a positive test, so that contact tracing can commence. 

According to university president, Paul Hennigan, no on-site testing is currently being offered at the university. The university is also not currently employing the use of randomized testing. However, the university’s plan is subject to change. 

“The protocol that I understand from UPMC is just that if all of a sudden we have data or trends that cause us to want to do on-site testing, that can be arranged very very quickly,” Hennigan said. “So if we would need to do on-site testing, and either randomized or symptomatic testing, we have the ability, with UPMC, to do that.”

Some students, though, are not confident in the university’s ability to prevent an outbreak.

“I am very disappointed in Point Park,” Shea O’Neill, a junior sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major, said. “I feel like before moving in, we were given a lot of empty promises…I’ve seen people in the cafe and Lawrence with no masks on and none of the employees say a word to them. They have not alerted us to the cases and say it’s our responsibility to check the dashboard. I do not feel very safe.”