West Liberty University, W.Va., COVID-19 Updates

Kicking off this exceedingly strange school year’s spring semester, West Liberty University carried out some 1,600 COVID-19 tests (rounded up from Vault Laboratories’ [the provider of the free COVID-19 saliva based tests] testing registration number of 1,569). The tests were part of an overall mass-testing and safety protocol initiative to better facilitate and monitor the health of the hilltop’s faculty and student body carried out between Jan. 19 – 22.

Of those tested, only 40 results came back positive, five of which were employees; three of the remaining 35 positive student results were from students who had previously tested positive at an earlier date within the past 90 days. The final two results were deemed inconclusive; retesting has since then taken place. 43 students with active cases of COVID-19 are currently being monitored by the university, this includes those who tested positive during the original mandatory mass testing that took place from Jan. 19 through 22. 33 students have been quarantined.

To further keep the safety and health of the overall student population here on the Hilltop at a securely strong level, weekly testing will continue to be carried out on a weekly basis beginning on Feb. 2. This testing method allows 10 percent of the student body to be tested weekly on an alphabetical level; students will be notified by email when their testing date approaches. Along with this initiative, surveillance testing will continue throughout the semester from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in Blatnik Hall gym; this will be carried out through the saliva based testing method, so students must refrain from eating or drinking for 30 minutes prior to taking their test.

As West Liberty stands as a role model for other schools, universities, and communities to follow in these unprecedented times, where concern for health and safety are at an all time high, so too does the state that our Hilltop, and many of our students, call home. Beginning in late 2020, the roll out and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine was still shrouded in much hesitation and anxiety; but since it’s very start, the state of West Virginia, like our own university, has led the nation in successful vaccine administration and documentation and stood as an unlikely role model among the chaos of this past year. While vaccination numbers climb, the rate of active COVID-19 cases diminish, and everyday we seem to grow a little bit closer to returning to a more “normal” world.

While West Virginia also had relatively fair success in carrying out it’s stay-at-home orders, citing the reinvigorated interest in outdoor activities like hiking, hunting and fishing, and a boom in tourism of our many national parks and forests, that the pandemic brought to our state, many professionals and scholars illustrate the close, tightly knit nature of our small state that led to such success with the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine. As well as having the third oldest populations in the nation, making vaccinating it’s citizens an utmost priority, many of these vaccinations were being handed out by local, family owned pharmacies and clinics, the owners of which were people that everyone in their communities knew and had interacted with before.

So, the anxieties that might come for some of going into a medical facility that could seem cold and systematic for a vaccination, for West Virginians it just felt familiar – everyday even; just another chance to show the nation how our state can come together in times of hardship to make a change for the better.