CSULB plans to implement rapid COVID-19 tests, health ambassadors to enforce regulations

Long Beach State is looking to partner with more organizations to offer rapid coronavirus testing and create a group of health ambassadors to enforce regulations, officials announced in a virtual meeting Wednesday.

Kimberly Fodran, chief of medical staff for Student Health Services, said that the CSULB is “doing pretty well” compared to other universities in the country.

“Because of the quick action of public health, temporary suspension of classes and targeted testing, we were really successful in preventing widespread transmission as a campus,” she said. “But there is always room for improvement.”

Fodran commented on the university’s recent COVID-19 outbreak that led to a two-week quarantine period for housing students, stating that the campus and student body could be more supportive in helping combat any further outbreaks.

“What I would suggest or ask is just a partnership with campus and our students,” she said. “Unfortunately nationwide, many of the outbreaks have been fueled by off-campus gatherings, and I think that is maybe something we could address together as a campus.”

Student Health Services is also looking to team up with organizations to provide COVID-19 tests with improved turnaround times, according to Fodran. Currently, test results are received in inconsistent time frames, and the university is aiming to implement reliable, rapid testing.

The university has also referred students and faculty to Los Angeles County testing facilities due to their ability to provide results faster, according to Fodran. According to its website, the county is aiming to get results within three to five days.

Fodran said that in the meantime, students should be wary of those who may be infected with COVID-19 and to get a test if it’s possible they have contracted the virus.

“If you develop symptoms, please get a test sooner,” she said.

George Alfaro, director of environmental health and safety, said the university is looking for ways to improve the quality of personal protective equipment and resources in order to improve campus setting “by making the campus a safe and helpful place to carry out their academic mission.”

“We are looking into UV germicidal irrigation light in specialized areas for aiding and killing the viruses and organisms,” he said. “This is an expensive upgrade, so we will do our research to make sure we obtain the best insight on the product viability.”

Alfaro said that although the university does enforce mask-wearing and “tries to educate the campus community as much as possible,” officials were marketing the enforcement as a “social responsibility” rather than a strict policy.

“We try to enforce within the buildings, outside the buildings. It is kind of tough to call the police on something like that,” he said. “So we just try to encourage and educate at that point.”

Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, said that campus police, community service officers and health advocates from the Division of Student Affairs will work together to “play an active role in educating those not complying with the guidelines.”

“That said, all community members should feel empowered to help remind their colleagues and fellow students about physical distancing and face coverings as an extension of the education and outreach we’ve conducted over the past few months,” Cook said.

According to Mary Ann Takemoto, associate vice president of student affairs, the university will have a team of students trained to work as “health ambassadors” in an effort to ensure students are following health and safety guidelines on campus.

“We do have a team of student health ambassadors who have been trained and will be working in shifts on campus to help promote making sure students are running masks and promoting social distancing,” she said.

No dates have been set for when these students will be present on campus.

There is no strict enforcement of the mask-wearing policy at this moment, according to University Police Department Captain Richard Goodwin.

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