EVMS physician assistant student tests positive for coronavirus

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — EVMS announced Sunday night that one of its physician assistant students tested positive for the coronavirus.

The student was exposed to another positive COVID-19 patient, but according to an EVMS spokesman, the exposure was not in connection with EVMS.

“This student works in a clinical setting outside of school,” said Vincent Rhodes, assistant vice president of marketing and communications. “So this was not a clinical rotation or educational experience, but in that clinical experience (the student) came into contact with a patient that was later confirmed to have COVID-19.”

The medical school has notified as many as 150 students and staff that they, too, may have been exposed to the positive COVID-19 student earlier this month. Rhodes says he does not know the student’s identity – and couldn’t give details even if he did, because of patient privacy laws.

Rhodes says had there been more test kits available two weeks ago, the affected student and those who might have had contact could have known sooner.

“Unfortunately for us and unfortunately for the student, there are so few tests and it takes days to come back with test results, the student didn’t find out until multiple days later that the student was positive for COVID-19.”

Rhodes says to the best of his knowledge the student is self-quarantining and is not in the hospital.

EVMS has suspended all clinical rotations for its health professions and MD students until further notice, to help curtail any possible spread of the virus. Last week, students about to graduate found out where they’ll have their upcoming residency, the annual tradition known as Match Day, by driving up and being handed an envelope through their car window.

Graduation day is May 16, and that remains in place at least for now. The administration at EVMS expects to make a decision later this week on whether that will change.

Students, faculty and staff who had close contact with the patient from March 10 to March 13 have been notified and directed to self-monitor and quarantine until March 28. 

According to a statement released by the school, students and staff who were not notified over the weekend about the situation as having had possible contact have an “exceptionally low” chance of contracting the virus.

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