Hope College student quarantined after possible COVID-19 exposure

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A student at Hope College is now being tested for COVID-19, coronavirus disease 2019, after reporting potential exposure at an off-campus event. 

The student’s COVID-19 test is the seventh case being tested in Ottawa County. The county reports everyone being tested is under self-quarantine or self-monitoring their symptoms as results pend. 

The school sent out a campus-wide email Monday night to notify students. They did not release specifics details about the student who could have been exposed, like where that student lives in relation to campus or where they may have come into contact with the virus. That unknown information has some students on edge.

“I think we’re in an environment where it’s really transmissible. So the fact that they aren’t cancelling class makes me a little nervous,” student Morgan Malaga said.

Malaga says she is now reconsidering a study abroad trip later this year. 

“It’s really difficult too, because I think a lot of people on campus don’t think it’s a big deal and there’s so much misinformation,” said student Kinzly Dressler who is also worried about the potential case on campus.

Other people on campus said they were not fazed by the email. 

“If the president says there should be no fear for it, why should I be worried about it?,” campus staff member Nick Mcnamara asked.

“I’m not really worried about it. There’s no point in being worried. We can’t really do anything besides what they tell us,” student David Clark added.

College president Matthew Scogin spoke to students in a video message Tuesday morning regarding the potential case. 

“Like all of you, I too am concerned about the presence of the coronavirus,” he said. “We should rally around this person in prayer and support, and it also means that we should not engage in any kind of gossip or belittling or discrimination.”

Scogin says this is not a time to panic. He reassured students the college has been preparing for the potential spread of the virus, putting a plan in place so students can complete coursework completely online if necessary. 

“Diseases are just a plane ride away. It doesn’t take much for it to travel quickly across the globe,” said Kristina Wieghmink with the Ottawa County Health Department.

The department says they’re working closely with Hope College, along with other community partners, to slow the spread of the virus. They say they’ve been using a real time COVID-19 tracking map from Johns Hopkins University to keep an eye on the situation internationally.

“We’ve been working closely with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and our health care providers to make sure we’re monitoring the situation daily and we have our plans in place should a case come to our area,” Wieghmink said. “We just want to again remind people that prevention is going to be key.”

The health department says the test results for the seven potential cases could come back as early as Wednesday.

The department gives the following tips to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands/ sanitize more often
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If you’re feeling sick, stay at home and contact your physician for advice on testing

Late Tuesday night, Michigan confirmed two cases of coronavirus, both in the Detroit area.

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