COVID-19 updates and additions

A testing trailer and dashboard are the newest fixtures of Hamline’s COVID-19 resources.

Audra Grigus, Junior News Editor

As COVID-19 continues to escalate throughout the nation, Hamline welcomes a new dashboard and testing trailer to the resources available to the community. Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., Melinda Heikkinen, the director of Public Safety and COVID-19 coordinator, meets with the President’s Staff to discuss COVID-19. The dashboard is then updated by 5 p.m. that same day, with the updated numbers provided by Health Services.

Health Services additionally has a new COVID-19 testing trailer located in the parking lot outside of Manor, between Mulkern Court and Central Plant. 

Any student with symptoms of COVID-19, other respiratory illness or exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested,” said Jodi Metz, Director of Health Services. “Health Services will offer a test to any student concerned about their risk for COVID, so we encourage all students to call to discuss their situation or complete the reporting form.”

Both of these services are new to the Hamline campus, introduced over one month after the semester began. According to Heikkinen, Hamline waited to implement the COVID-19 dashboard until the Department of Health deemed it a necessary resource. There is value in having a dashboard, but Heikkinen also has her concerns as well.

“We have students who have never set foot on campus,” Heikkinen said. “Their entire course load is remote, but they’re still reporting to us and we still count them. They’re still our students. That’s really challenging to create a simple dashboard that provides basic numbers that doesn’t reflect all of that.”

Heikkinen finds that, with the occasional fluctuation, Hamline’s COVID-19 numbers are holding steady.

“As an institution, we’re doing really, really well,” she said.

For students that would like to report their COVID-19 symptoms or positive test, they can do so through the student reporting form on the Counseling and Health Services website. Every person that has access to the information on the reporting form is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) trained. 

“We know in any case there’s a hesitancy to report,” Heikkinen said. “Right now it is mostly the Health Services staff who are doing the contact tracing and they’re not reporting, even if they think it was a party.”

Heikkinen clarified that by reporting and seeking help for COVID-19 concerns, students are not reporting to her as the Director of Public Safety, even in the instances of students attending parties.  

“Now if I, as the Director of Public Safety, find out that there was a party, a police report comes across my desk…I get a complaint from a neighbor or my public safety staff happens to be driving down the road to take care of something and they see a gathering at one of the houses off campus, that’s different,” Heikkinen said. 

When it comes to paying for a test performed at the testing trailer, Mayo Labs will bill an individual’s health insurance plan for COVID-19 testing, but the coverage will depend on the individual’s insurance plan. An insurance company is likely to cover the cost of a COVID-19 test if symptoms or exposure are documented.

“If a student wants to pay cash for a test, the cost is $78 and Health Services can bill student accounts if not covered by an individual’s insurance,” Metz said. “Health Services staff can also help students find free testing in the community and/or cover the cost of a test if there is a financial hardship.”

Leo Coughenour

Source: These numbers are updateed weekly on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.

Results have been coming in anywhere from 24-48 hours after collecting, according to Metz.

To make an appointment for the trailer, students can call Health Services at 651-523-2204 and will receive instruction from there.

“We’re in this together, there’s no way that our leadership team or I can fix everything on [our] own,” Heikkinen said. “It takes a lot of effort on everyone’s part and we’re getting that. We really, really appreciate it.”