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BYU-Idaho student tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus

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REXBURG — A Brigham Young University-Idaho student has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation, according to Eastern Idaho Public Health.

Officials announced the second eastern Idaho case of coronavirus during a news conference at the Madison County Courthouse on Tuesday evening. The student, a man in his 20s, contracted COVID-19 in another state and was tested last week. He is in his apartment in Rexburg recovering from mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.

“The patient became symptomatic on Sunday, March 8, while he was still out of our state,” said Geri Rackow, Eastern Idaho Public Health District Director. “He returned to Rexburg on Wednesday, March 11, and he remained at home until seeking medical care on March 12. At that time, he was tested for COVID-19, and after that test, he was asked to stay at home until the test results were evaluated.”

Rackow did not say where was visiting when he came in contact with the virus, but she said the student traveled in a personal vehicle. The health department is investigating how he contracted the disease.

“A commercial lab did the test, and due to the volume of testing, it took a couple of days to get the results back,” she said. “He did isolate at home and sought appropriate medical treatment.”

Rackow stressed the health department will provide monitoring, assistance and, if appropriate, testing to those individuals who had close contact with the infected man. BYU-Idaho suspended classes last week and many students have returned home.

“In the last couple of weeks, we have been sending our official notices of email to students and employees,” BYU-Idaho spokesman Brett Sampson said. “Our classes are online only for the rest of the semester, and our Student Health Center will continue to follow protocol as we work closely with the professionals.”

Eight lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in Idaho as of Tuesday morning. Fifty-eight people have been tested for the disease through commercial laboratories, 295 have been tested through the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories and 76 people have been monitored by Idaho public health agencies, according to the state’s coronavirus website.

Officials at the news conference said they expect more positive cases of COVID-19 in Madison County but said essential city and county services will not be disrupted.

“In all of these kinds of situations, there’s always some bad news but some good news. You’ve already heard the bad news. The good news is we as community leaders have been preparing and working together since the first notifications of COVID-19,” said Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill. “You can take confidence knowing we have planned for this day as well as the weeks to come.”

The following is information from Eastern Idaho Public Health about COVID-19:

If you have no symptoms, you will not be tested and there is no need for you to be tested.

If you have fever with a cough or fever with shortness of breath, first call your health care provider.

  • Advise them of the following: your symptoms, any recent travel history, and any contact with a person CONFIRMED to have COVID-19.
  • They will advise you what to do.
  • DO NOT show up unannounced; call ahead first.
  • If you don’t have a health care provider, know there are options available and guidance can be given if you need help finding one.
  • If your provider advises you to come in for a check-up, they will determine the need to run a COVID-19 test.

Your health care provider can choose to run a COVID-19 test if:

  • You have been evaluated for other respiratory illnesses.
  • You have symptoms with a history of recent travel OR
  • You have symptoms and contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19.

Visit the emergency room (ER) or call 911 only if respiratory illness is significant enough for you to need emergency care (think of it this way: would you have sought ER care 5 months ago for the symptoms you are currently experiencing? If so, visit the ER.)

Another important consideration: just like a positive flu test isn’t necessarily needed for a health care provider to treat flu-like symptoms (or for a person to stay home and care for themselves with medication, rest, fluid intake, avoiding others, etc.), the same is true of COVID-19. Your health care provider is your #1 resource for accurate, timely information. Please do not “work around” their advice.

We are seeing people in our ERs wanting to be tested after a health care provider has already told them testing wasn’t indicated, based on their unique situation.

You can prevent the spread of illness by:

  • Avoiding people who are sick and if you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs using a disinfecting solution.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.

For questions, guidance, and information about COVID-19, please visit EIPH’s website at www.EIPH.Idaho.gov.

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