As the return of college students to campuses has fueled as many as 3,000 COVID-19 cases a day, keeping track of them is a logistical nightmare for local health departments and colleges.
Some students are putting down their home addresses instead of their college ones on their COVID testing forms — slowing the transfer of case data and hampering contact tracing across state and county lines.
The address issue has real consequences, as any delay in getting the case to the appropriate authorities allows the coronavirus to continue to spread unchecked. Making matters worse, college-age people already tend to be hard to trace because they are unlikely to answer a phone call from an unknown number.
“With that virus, you really need to be able to identify that case and their contacts in 72 hours,” said Indiana University’s assistant director for public health, Graham McKeen.
And if the students