Broadway residence hall. Hanna Anderson/PSU Vanguard

COVID-19 reported in PSU residence halls

Two cases of COVID-19 were found on Portland State’s campus on the weekend of Oct. 10, one positive and one inconclusive, bringing the total number of cases associated with PSU to four. 


The cases were found in Broadway and Blumel Residence Halls, respectively. An email announcement was sent to residents of those buildings by University Housing and Residence Life (UHRL) and Mark Bajorek, PSU’s director of health services. 


“From a public health [perspective], inconclusive should be treated as a positive, because it’s certainly not a negative.” Bajorek said. 


PSU keeps track of cases associated with the university on their Coronavirus Response page. The first PSU case was with a non-resident student who tested positive in May. One resident and student worker tested positive in August. In all of the cases, according to the website, no exposure to others on campus was found. 


While one student tested positive for COVID-19, the test for the other student came back as inconclusive. There are a number of reasons why a test might come back inconclusive—for example, if the test didn’t pick up enough of a sample, or if the person being tested didn’t have enough of the virus to be detectable. 


UHRL has introduced multiple new measures for students returning to live on campus in order to curb the spread of the virus. Only residents are allowed in their respective buildings, and guests are not allowed. In hallways and shared spaces, such as laundry rooms, masks are required to be worn. Other shared spaces, such as lobbies, are closed entirely. 


The Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) offers COVID-19 testing by appointment for the PSU community. Since May, 127 tests have been conducted at SHAC. For students, staff and faculty who are tested or exposed elsewhere, however, PSU relies on self reporting. 


“We’re really relying on students with voluntary reporting,” Bajorek said. “We’re required by law to keep record of the number of students that are tested, and then the numbers that are positive, we are required to report those to Multnomah County, so they can do contact tracing. Typically, we also do some contact tracing as well, especially in the residence halls, or for people that have been on campus.”


Oregon has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Oregon reached a new highest number of positive cases in a single day with 484 cases on Thursday, with a new record of 364 average daily cases. 154 Oregonians with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized. 


Since the start of the pandemic, the most important individual measures have remained largely the same: Wear a mask, stay six feet apart and keep large group gatherings to a minimum. 


For PSU community members and others who have visited PSU, who have been exposed to, tested positive for or diagnosed with COVID-19, PSU strongly recommends filling out the self reporting form, which can be found on the SHAC website.