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  • Collegian staff

Student with COVID-19 symptoms denied quarantine aid prior to test: later tested negative

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Nat Felten

Staff writer

Correction added Oct. 4 - see bottom.

A symptomatic Willamette student who lives on campus, fearful of having contracted COVID-19 and seeking a test for it, was told by a Willamette administrator to "contact their insurance agency," according to a Facebook post by Willamette student Daniel Smith (‘22). On September 7, Smith posted to the Facebook group “Willamette University Students” that his friend contacted Tori Ruiz, student CARE and conduct case manager, after experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. Smith said the student was not provided the opportunity to have meals delivered to them during this time.

The student, who was given anonymity because of medical privacy, confirmed this version of events. “That was pretty much all the contact that I had with the school until the next day when I sent an email because I went to the emergency room that night and got a COVID test,” said the student.

I’m fortunate enough to have someone else in my room to go out and grab something if I need it,” said the student. They stressed that not everyone has someone who can always be able to get them food while awaiting test results. Though they are now having meals delivered by the university, the student said that there have been some issues: “There was a questionnaire that you fill out and it’s like ‘do you have any diet[ary] restrictions’ and ‘are there any special things that you would like to eat, is there anything you won’t eat?’” The student said that they filled in strong preferences about what they would not eat or drink, but those items were still included in their meals.

Don Thomson and Ruiz were contacted for comment, but directed the Collegian to Tim Cobb, vice president of Marketing and Communications. Cobb sent an email to the Collegian describing university procedures for student quarantine which said,“the decision to isolate and quarantine should be made in consultation with a health provider.” As for cases where students fear that they might be sick but have not been asked to quarantine by a professional, Cobb said that students may rely on friends or roommates to pick up food and essentials: “In some cases, a student may not have this support and the university can step in to help, but as you can imagine, we'd like the bulk of our resources to focus on preventing cases and assisting those who have tested positive or need to quarantine.”

Despite their troubles with getting assistance, the student hopes that this can be a learning opportunity for WU, ”It sucks that I had this experience, but now hopefully the admin can be like ‘oh, let’s not do this thing to another person!’” They also said that they were treated with much more caution after the Facebook post and the administration’s subsequent help.

The student tested negative for the COVID-19 virus on September 9, and is currently well.

Bishop Wellness Center “will be a testing resource for students who are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 this academic year” according to the WIllamette website’s COVID-19 Response Center. Students looking for other places to get testing may use the Testing Site Finder.

Correction added Oct. 4: Quote from anonymous student removed since it made a claim the Collegian could not verify.

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