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Miami pauses surveillance testing for COVID-19

In a university-wide email on Nov. 3, Miami University’s COVID Response Team announced a pause in surveillance testing for both students and employees. 

The team cites Miami’s high vaccination rates — 92% for Oxford campus students and 80% for employees — plus the low number of COVID-19 cases on campus, as the reason for doing away with the tests. 

According to Miami’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are eight active student cases and three employee cases of COVID-19 on the Oxford campus as of Nov. 4. Most positive cases are identified through diagnostic testing — testing done through the Student Health Center, McCullough Hyde Hospital and doctor’s offices. 

Jessica Rivinius, director of news and media relations, wrote in an email to The Miami Student that the team considered many factors while making the decision. 

“From a public health ethics perspective, it is important that benefits of public health measures like surveillance testing outweigh the burden and the cost,” Rivinius wrote. “At this point, our public health experts determined that the burden of surveillance testing outweighs the benefit.”

Although individuals were required to comply with testing and changes in public health during the pandemic, Rivinius said they are no longer required to be tested with the change. 

Despite the pause, the team said it will continue to work with the Butler County General Health District to maintain contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. 

It will also continue to monitor the virus through campus wastewater. Off-campus students’ wastewater will be evaluated through Ohio’s Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network.

The team also said it will bring surveillance tests back if it becomes necessary. 

Rivinius said the team will evaluate many factors to decide if the tests should return. This includes, but is not limited to, evaluating regional hospitalization rates, the rate of transmission and the number of positive cases: the same factors that went into the decision to pause the tests.

Both the City of Oxford and Miami still have indoor mask policies in place. Diagnostic testing is still available at the health center, and Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 home antigen tests are still available in various locations across campus, including Armstrong Student Center, King Library, the Recreational Center and residence halls. 

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