The New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine has reached an agreement with the Arkansas State University System to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing for each of the system's campuses across the state.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with someone infected with the virus so that they can be informed and counseled.
NYITCOM, which operates one of its medical schools on the A-State campus in Jonesboro, will use its community engagement arm, the Delta Population Health Institute, to conduct the tracing. The fall semester begins Monday.
"This is a time when having a medical school on your campus can be a game changer, and we’re happy to have the opportunity to lead this effort for our partner," NYITCOM at A-State Dean Shane Speights said in a news release. "We have a number of physicians and public health experts on our campus who will do a tremendous job leading and guiding this project, one that's incredibly crucial to limiting the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses and in our communities."
"We're very fortunate to have an outstanding medical school located in the heart of our campus in Jonesboro," ASU System President Chuck Welch said. "Dean [Shane] Speights and the NYITCOM team are providing a critical service to our ASU System institutions and communities with COVID-19 tracing work. Their guidance to us during this pandemic has been extremely helpful, and we’re grateful for this partnership."
NYITCOM said it will coordinate with the Arkansas Department of Health to follow appropriate protocols and procedures. Students, faculty and staff in the system will report if they are positive, exposed and/or symptomatic. Contact tracers will then connect with those who have been exposed to a positive case as well as unconfirmed symptomatic people to provide guidance for care.
Dr. Brookshield Laurent, who serves as chair of NYITCOM at A-State's department of clinical medicine and executive director of the DPHI, will lead the project.
"This is about providing a safe learning and working environment for students, faculty and staff," Laurent said in the release. "As students return to campus, it’s inevitable that there will be cases of COVID-19. By effectively and efficiently implementing the proper protocols, we will diligently work to limit the spread and keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible."