‘It’s getting better’: Risk compliance officer addresses COVID-19 concerns at student senate

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Elliot Young, chief operating officer for university risk and compliance, addressed the student senate with an update on COVID-19 on campus and a message encouraging more students to get tested.

“The bottom line with the cases is that the number of cases that we’re seeing in the community is still too high, but it’s getting better,” Young said.

While positivity rates dropped dramatically — even since last week — Young said to keep in mind other factors.

Young said Via Christi hospital reported three hospitalizations Thursday morning, which is “about as high as it’s been throughout this whole situation.”

“Other places around the country have gone into crisis mode, we have not,” he said. “We only have a couple of patients and many of those are only in for a very short period of time.”

On-campus compliance with the face mask requirements is at 90 percent, Young said, while the community estimate is 75 percent.

“We would love to see both numbers get better,” he said. “Physical distancing and wearing a face covering are the two most important things.”

While data on the website is currently updated weekly, Young said the university plans to start updating it multiple times per week.

The data is meant to be viewed holistically, he said, and “not any one of these indicators means that we should go remote or that we should limit operations.”

“We felt like — and we still feel like — we can manage the situation, and I think we’re seeing now that things are getting better,” he said.

While Young said it could always change, the only way the university would realistically go remote again is if the state or county ordered it to do so.

“We don’t see that happening,” he said.

Student senators pressed Young on plans for future testing, beginning with Madison Brown, senior in finance, asking about the possibility of testing being required in the future.

Though some universities require testing for incoming students, Young said Kansas State will not require entry testing for students returning to campus in the future.

“There’s some question about the legality of doing that. Our general counsel’s office advised that it would not be wise to set that sort of requirement in place but we should do everything we can to encourage and educate people to come do it,” he said. “When we talk about the larger population and doing required surveillance testing, what we really get into there are Fourth Amendment issues and privacy issues.”

While he doesn’t foresee testing across the board, he said new staff and technology are shifting towards the ability to do more asymptomatic testing.

“What this ultimately comes down to is we really do need students, faculty, staff, everybody, … to take advantage of that opportunity to go get tested,” Young said.

Senate will reconvene Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.