WIU student living on campus tests positive for COVID-19

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Days after Western Illinois University confirmed its first case of a student testing positive for the coronavirus, now officials say another student has the virus.

WIU officials announced Tuesday evening a student living on campus tested positive for COVID-19, according to the McDonough County Health Department.

The school said local health staff are working to identify who the student may have come in close contact with recently. Officials said the student is currently in self-isolation. WIU officials would not release to NEWS3 which residence hall the student has been staying in on campus.

“The University has a campus alternative housing plan in place and the student has been relocated,” WIU spokesperson Darcie Shinberger told NEWS3. “Enhanced cleaning is being done by our building services staff, and the McDonough County Health Dept. is conducting contact tracing.”

Families can expect to see more traffic on WIU’s campus this week as students move out of their dorm rooms to end the semester.

This news comes just days after the school announced its first confirmed case of a student living off campus testing positive for COVID-19. WIU Interim President Martin Abraham said that student was instructed to go into self-isolation. He also said the student will not be able to return to campus or their normal activities until authorized by public health officials.

Abraham said the university is expecting more cases as coronavirus testing is more widely available.

“As testing continues to increase and there are more positive cases reported within our county, we anticipate additional cases could affect our University,” Abraham said.

McDonough County Health Department reported its second death and three new coronavirus cases Tuesday. The new cases includes a woman in her 20s, a man in his 20s and a man in his 70s. Authorities have reported four outbreaks at residential facilities in the county so far. Staff are currently reporting two deaths and 39 positive cases in McDonough County.

Abraham suggested the following tips in order to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Follow government mandates around travel, work, and leaving your home. If you do leave your home, you must wear a mask/face covering when in public spaces when social distancing is not an option, as required per Gov. Pritzker’s May 1 Stay at Home Order.
  • Engage in social distancing (minimum 6 feet). Remain home as much as possible.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Watch for cough, troubled breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
  • Monitor temperature for a fever above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).

Abraham said anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (fever over 100.4 F, cough and shortness of breath) should self-isolate. Experts said most people who contract coronavirus will be able to shelter in place at home, and recover uneventfully without hospitalization. Abraham said this is especially true of traditional college age patients without underlying health conditions. He said most college-age individuals with coronavirus can expect to have little to no symptoms, or possibly develop symptoms similar to a bad cold or a case of influenza. If you develop severe symptoms such as struggling to breathe, blue lips, passing out or confusion, seek immediate medical care.

Abraham said WIU has safety protocols in place, including daily temperature taking for anyone coming to campus, increased cleaning and disinfecting in residence halls and dining center and  social distancing measures and following the stay-at-home order in place. WIU posts the latest coronavirus updates for the school here.

WIU’s classes are currently online for the rest of the spring semester. The last day of school is Friday.