Contact tracing could become a vital tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the medical school on the Arkansas State University campus is ready to assist.
The New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine has reached an agreement with the Arkansas State University System to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing for each of the system’s campus locations across the state.
New York Institute of Technology will utilize the Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI), NYITCOM’s community engagement arm, to execute the initiative. The ASU fall semester begins on Aug. 24, and the contact tracing infrastructure will be in place when students return to campus.
“We’re very fortunate to have an outstanding medical school located in the heart of our campus in Jonesboro,” ASU System President Dr. Chuck Welch said. “Dean Speights and the NYITCOM team are providing a critical service to our ASU System institutions and communities with COVID-19 tracing work. Their guidance to us during this pandemic has been extremely helpful, and we’re grateful for this partnership.”
Contact tracing is the process of identifying persons who may have come into contact with someone infected with an illness. Contact tracing is crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 by informing and counseling individuals that they may have been exposed to the virus.
“This is a time when having a medical school on your campus can be a game changer and we’re happy to have the opportunity to lead this effort for our partner,” NYITCOM at A-State Dean Dr. Shane Speights said. “We have a number of physicians and public health experts on our campus who will do a tremendous job leading and guiding this project, one that’s incredibly crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses and in our communities.”
NYITCOM will coordinate with the Arkansas Department of Health to follow all proper protocols and procedures. Students, faculty and staff in the ASU System will report if they are positive, exposed and/or symptomatic. NYITCOM’s contact tracers will connect with those who have been exposed to a positive case as well as unconfirmed symptomatic persons to provide guidance for care. Brookshield Laurent, D.O., who serves as chair of NYITCOM at A-State’s department of clinical medicine and the executive director of the DPHI, will lead the project for NYITCOM.
“This is about providing a safe learning and working environment for students, faculty and staff,” Laurent said. “As students return to campus, it’s inevitable that there will be cases of COVID-19. By effectively and efficiently implementing the proper protocols, we will diligently work to limit the spread and keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.”