GLASSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — One of the most prominent members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was in Gloucester County on Tuesday to talk about keeping college students healthy. Rowan University students have been back at campus since September and are apparently setting an example for other universities and communities across the country, says Dr. Deborah Birx.
All around Rowan University are signs with reminders to stay vigilant.
“This university has excellent signage. The best signage we’ve seen at any university,” Birx said.
Birx sat with faculty, students and health officials to continue the conversation as they work towards staying ahead of the curve, advocating for increased surveillance to identify asymptomatic cases and wastewater testing as a tool.
“With the new testing that is coming out and the new capacity that every state should have, they should be able, between wastewater and asymptomatic testing, really be able to have early alerts,” Birx said.
The university understands the importance of isolation and quarantine. If it’s impossible to go home, students can quarantine at one of their residence halls.
“My father has diabetes, so if I go home I’m putting him at risk. So the fact that I have the option to safely quarantine on campus than going home and putting my father at risk, that’s another great reason why students have decided to come back to campus,” senior Arielle Gedeon said.
Testing is offered on campus and also at Rowan College in Burlington County. At-home COVID-19 diagnostic testing is available for students, residents and those working in the county. Test kits can be picked up in the parking lot.
Birx says it’s going to take full participation and a change in behavior this fall, not just on college campuses, but in the surrounding communities as well, in order to continue decreasing the spread.
School officials agree.
“Things as far as trying to communicate more broadly,” said Dr. Joe Cardona, with Rowan University Relations.
Birx says the work being done in New Jersey is reassuring as they push to mitigate the virus. She says the White House is looking forward to a vaccine, possibly by the end of the year.
Several questions were asked of Birx regarding President Donald Trump and his recent COVID-19 diagnosis. She declined to answer.