Brigham Young University has been seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, and university officials assure us that these numbers are accurate. But are all students who have symptoms getting tested, or are they too afraid that the university might shut down?
When BYU sophomore Ellie Crook’s roommate started showing symptoms for the virus, she told her to go get tested.
“I was like, ‘This is something you agreed to when coming here. Like, despite whether or not you believe in it, you should do it for the safety of others,’” she said.
A few days later…
“She lost her taste and smell so she like, had it, but she never got tested,” she added. “I think part of it was she didn’t want BYU to shut down.”
Crook says her roommate isn’t the only one she knows who has been against testing. The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that a growing number of Utahns are refusing to get tested — even if they have symptoms.
This worries health and government officials. “We need to have better testing. More testing,” Governor Herbert said in a press conference.
So, what does all this mean for BYU’s COVID case count?
“We believe that our current case count is as accurate as possible,” said BYU spokeswoman Natalie Ipson. University officials say they are aware that there may be students choosing not to be tested, but they believe the decline in cases over the past few weeks is real and not a result of a decrease in testing.
This is due to the variety of BYU’s tracking methods beyond just self-reporting, including randomized testing. “We can monitor through our randomized testing how that disease is spreading within a random sample of our campus community,” Ipson said.
But randomized testing has also become a spot of controversy. Some BYU students created a petition against randomized testing.
“This is a violation of our privacy, bodily autonomy, and a breach of the contract under which we accepted our invitation to BYU as a student or employee,” the petition’s website states.
Despite the controversies, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins emphasized the significance of testing. “Testing is an important component to successfully preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
“We encourage those, if you are feeling sick, go get tested,” Ipson added.
For more information on the BYU COVID case count — which is updated daily — and for other important information, you can visit coronavirus.byu.edu.