BENTON COUNTY-- After Benton County reported its highest single day total of COVID-19 cases on Saturday, health officials said Oregon State University move-in day was partly to blame.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, there were 27 new COVID-19 cases reported Saturday for Benton County.
However, that number dropped significantly on Sunday when OHA reported the county had 7 new cases.
OSU students started to move into their residence halls on Friday and will continue to until Tuesday. This left many community members wondering if the two events were connected.
“Certainly in the Benton County community, the influx of OSU students is one of the higher likelihood reasons,” Benton County Public Information Officer Lili’a Neville said.
Neville said OSU has conducted over 1,000 tests since students started moving in days ago, which is far greater than their average amount in that time span.
“That could be an indicator,” Neville said. “Another change we saw recently was that the CDC changed their guidance on testing of asymptomatic people, so we may see a slight uptick in that.”
OSU spokesman Steve Clark said every student is given a COVID-19 rapid test on-site before moving into a residence hall and must show a negative test result to move in. He said the results are visible within the hour.
“If they test negative, they're able to move into their residence hall room,” Clark said. “If they test positive, they have two choices. They can either go into isolation within designated isolation rooms we have on campus and remain there until they are no longer testing positive. Or they can return to their home community and return to Oregon State when they're no longer positive.”
Clark said typically 5,000 students live in residence halls on OSU’s Corvallis campus. This year, they’re expecting 2,500 or less because of the pandemic.
Nicholas DuVernay moved into his OSU dorm on Friday.
“They tested everyone who are in the dorm halls," DuVernay said. "Everyone in the dorm halls got a negative test, so it makes you feel more peace of mind that no one in at least the hall has a positive test as of now.”
On Friday, about 750 students were tested for COVID-19. On Saturday, around 480 students were tested. As of Sunday morning, OSU had tested another 188 students.
“On Saturday, there were zero positive cases,” Clark said.
Clark added that after two and a half days of testing, the positive cases were less than 2% overall.
“We want our students to know their personal wellness,” Clark said. “We also want their families to know their students' wellness. As a university in the community of Bend and Corvallis, we want to provide a sense of awareness and confidence.”