In a March 26 press release, Mississippi State University reported a total of five members of the MSU community with positive cases of COVID-19. According to Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter, there has since been one new case of confirmed COVID-19 in a student.
The three students who have tested positive for the virus include a student who left campus on March 9 for spring break and is currently isolating at their permanent residence, a student who moved out of Greek housing on March 18 and is currently hospitalized in an out-of-state facility and an additional confirmed case of a student who was living off-campus and was tested for the virus at a private health care facility.
One faculty member has tested positive for the virus and is currently in isolation. This individual was last on campus in their office March 16 and sanitation of the affected areas has since taken place.
One staff member was confirmed positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation. The individual was self-isolating in their residence before confirmation.
As stated in a previous press release, a Pike County extension staff member tested positive for the virus and self-isolated. The office was temporarily closed and sanitized.
According to the March 26 press release, at least three other MSU employees have been tested for the virus and are awaiting their results. Salter said on the 28th that they still had not received their results.
“There’s a time lag between testing and results. I think everybody in the medical community is taking steps to cut down that lag time but as the number of tests increases the difficulty of getting results increases as well,” Salter said of the delay in reporting test results.
Salter said there is no new information on how or where these individuals contracted the virus, but that there is a CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health protocol for interviewing affected individuals to determine where the virus was potentially contracted.
The press release mentioned MSU’s commitment to transparency during this time. Salter said while there would not be a set timeline for press releases, the university would keep the public fully apprised of the numbers of those in the MSU community who have contracted the virus.
“We’re not going to have press statements just for the sake of having press statements,” Salter said. “If we have something to share that’s valid, we’re certainly going to get that out there. We want to be transparent. We know there’s a lot of anxiety with this.”
Salter said the next scheduled meeting for the administrators responsible for setting policy and releasing statements is on Monday and he does not anticipate the release of an update before Monday afternoon.