Mississippi State health and safety plan sees early success in limiting COVID-19 spread

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STARKVILLE, MISS. (WCBI) – Thursday marks one month since classes at Mississippi State got underway for the fall semester.

One week ago, MSU reported that 907 students were quarantined or isolated in connection with COVID-19.

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Now, the university says that number is down to 311.

“We’re very happy with the trend that the numbers are showing,” says Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jeremy Baham. “Both the folks going in quarantine as well as just our positive cases.”

On Thursday afternoon, cars lined up for free COVID-19 testing offered to Mississippi State staff and students.

“This seemed very well organized and very well put together,” says grad student Ryan King. “It took less time than I expected it to.”

Each person received a pre-made test kit which were then administered by staff from OCH Regional Medical Center. OCH staff say patients should expect results within 24 hours.

It’s just the latest example of the many steps MSU is taking to keep their campus safe as this pandemic drags on.

“If you’re symptomatic you would go to the health center, if you’ve been exposed to somebody, you’d go to the health center,” Baham says. “But this is for anyone who’s just curious.”

Those are just a few points that are part of the school’s detailed health and safety return plan. Baham says that after a spike in cases early in the semester, MSU has since seen a significant decrease in positive coronavirus case and the number of people needing to quarantine.

He says much of the credit goes to how well students and employees have stuck to the new guidelines.

“We have seen across the country just some students who have disregarded what the universities are telling them and we haven’t seen that,” Baham says. “Most of our students, they want to be here. They want to learn.”

King says that matches what he has seen from his fellow students.

“At least within buildings, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone not wearing a mask that needed to be,” he said.

While Baham is pleased with their early success, he says COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere soon. When asked about the possibility that the upcoming Bulldogs’ 2020 football season could lead to more large gatherings, Baham says that while he wants students to enjoy football, it’s more important that they stay safe.

“You know what to do, we know what works,” he says. “Wear your masks, stay socially distant from each other. Follow the protocols and we’re all going to get through this together.”