OU spring break cutler hall college green

File photo of Ohio University’s College Green, desolate during spring break 2020 while in-person classes are canceled due to concerns about the potential spread of COVID 19. Photo by Conor Morris.

Ohio University President Duane Nellis confirmed in an email to the campus community today (Wednesday) that an OU student has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) after returning to the U.S. (and coming to both the student's home county and Athens) from a university-sponsored study-away program. The student is no longer in Athens.

In a follow-up email, announced as an "emergency declaration" under the Clery Act, Nellis clarified his earlier released account of the chronology after the student returned from abroad:

"In summary, an Ohio University student reported that they began feeling ill while abroad. This individual returned to the United States and self-isolated first in our student’s home community and then at their off-campus house in Athens, during which time, this individual reported having no visits to campus nor contact with other students.

"Our student was tested for COVID-19 in their home county and was notified of the positive result on Tuesday, March 24," Nellis' statement continued. "The student self-reported the positive test to the University, which we confirmed with our student’s local public health department this (Wednesday) morning."

The earlier statement from Nellis said the student "returned to their permanent county of residence to continue self-isolation with the support of their family. Our thoughts are with them, and we are also offering support to our student to ensure they have the resources they need."

Nellis said the university is not releasing the student's name or county of residence.

The newer statement clarified the earlier statement's information about who the student might have been in contact with in Athens, saying "this individual reported having no visits to campus nor contact with other students."

In the earlier statement, Nellis, said, "Since learning of the confirmed diagnoses, we have been working closely with local public health officials to investigate any interactions this person has had with university faculty, staff or students, and to inform those who may be impacted. Anyone that may have been in recent contact with the individual has been contacted and has been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of last contact, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. If you have not been personally notified, you do not need to self-quarantine or take special precautions as a result of this student’s positive test."

The university made the decision to end all study-abroad and travel-away programs on March 12, and students were asked to return to the U.S. no later than March 20. 

"We are requesting that anyone in our campus community that may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms contact their primary care provider and/or their local health department for immediate guidance," Nellis said. "If you test positive for COVID-19, we request that you contact your local county health department. It is imperative that you follow the instructions of your medical provider and avoid situations in which you may come in contact with others."

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