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IU provides isolation housing, Health Center tests students for COVID-19

<p>An IU Health Center sign hangs on a pole along North Jordan Avenue. Students living on campus can self-isolate in IU-owned off-campus houses while being tested for the coronavirus.</p>

An IU Health Center sign hangs on a pole along North Jordan Avenue. Students living on campus can self-isolate in IU-owned off-campus houses while being tested for the coronavirus.

IU senior Kyle Edwards spent 11 days in an IU-owned house while he was being tested for the coronavirus. One of those days was his 22nd birthday, and IU Dining employees sent him snacks, cards and a cake.

Edwards was tested in March after he became very ill with symptoms such as coughing, body aches and a fever of more than 101 degrees. He said he tested negative for the flu, strep throat and mono twice.

“I was really, really ill,” Edwards said. “I had all the symptoms.”

Edwards tested negative for the coronavirus and was released from isolation April 4.

“I’m doing better, and I’m glad to be home," Edwards said.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said that IU Public Safety and Institutional Assurance is using eight off-campus houses with a total of 23 beds to house students who need to be isolated while being tested for COVID-19. The isolation houses are only for students living on campus. Four students, including Edwards, have used the houses for self-isolation so far. Carney said those students' test results all came back negative.

“This is precautionary,” Carney said.

The process of getting a test from the Health Center starts with an evaluation by phone or video call, Health Center medical director Dr. Beth Rupp said. A medical professional will determine if the person needs to come for an in-person visit for further evaluation. During an in-person visit, another medical professional will decide if a test is needed, if their symptoms are severe enough.

If a student needs to be tested, Health Center staff tells them to self-isolate. Health Center nurses will call each day to check on them and make sure their symptoms don’t get worse. Isolation continues until the a patient tests negative. Rupp said the new test is supposed to come back in 48 to 72 hours. If the test is positive, it is passed on to the Monroe County Health Department, which notifies the state.

Previously, it took about seven to 10 days to get results, so the Health Center was not testing very many people, Rupp said. But the Health Center is using a new laboratory for coronavirus testing beginning Monday, which can get results more quickly.

Like health centers across the country, though, Rupp said the Health Center has a shortage of “viral transport medium,” or the packaging the doctor puts a swab in for the tests.

Rupp said the center has changed labs in hopes of getting results more quickly beginning Monday. The price of the test is $80, but Anthem insurance covers the cost. With most other providers, a patient will have to pay the $80 out-of-pocket and later submit a claim.

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