Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, an HBCU, knows what it takes to beat COVID.
A mandatory testing policy. Twice a week for all 2,000 student, residents and employees. Results back in less than two days. Nearly 90 percent of all classes taught virtually. There’s mandatory masking, And total student buy in.
What’s more, Allen says his way works because his students are there for a reason. He told CNN his students were mostly the first in their family to attend college. They have a purpose.
Is Allen’s plan working? Positivity rates were at .05 percent from July to late September. (Under 5 percent is considered admirable. At .05, you are simply bragging). Indeed, students look at it as a source of pride.
So how’s your college or university president acting on matters of the virus? Like Allen or that other president Donald Trump?
Trump was out on the White House balcony over the weekend still saying things he said back in March. The virus? It’s going away. It’s going to disappear magically. At least he didn’t speculate on using bleach.
But President Downplay did say during his very short stay at Walter Reed that his time there was like going to school on the virus. “The real school,” he said. “This isn’t the ‘Let’s read the book,’ school.”
Maybe he should read more books.
Over the weekend, Trump got a doctor’s note clearing him to return to public rallies and campaign efforts.
The note does not say when the president had his last negative test so we don’t really have an accurate timeline for his illness. By my count, he’s just 11 days after hospitalization. He may have passed an antibody test but considering he was given a dose of monoclonal antibodies, you’d expect to see high levels.
Such details don’t deter the president, who continues to call the virus, “The China Virus,” though he probably got the virus somewhere in New Jersey, or Minnesota, or Washington at the now infamous super-spreader event, the White House reception for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
White House Doctor Sean Conley is only too willing to say that by “currently recognized standards, (the president) is no longer considered a transmission risk to others.”
As Trump is the high risk president, as an older, obese person, shouldn’t he be a bit more prudent?
Not when Trump’s 10 points behind in many national polls. And not when he wants to rally what the Senate is doing to rush Barrett onto the Supreme Court to score political points for Trump by ending the Affordable Care Act.
That’s your basic Trump model.
And it’s being followed by Notre Dame president, the Rev. John Jenkins.
Fr.Jenkins was at that White House super-spreader event for Notre Dame Law School alumnus Judge Barrett.
About a dozen people at the event came down with COVID-19, including Fr. Jenkins.
After his 14 day quarantine he’s back on the job as of Monday. He didn’t display a doctor’s note. But in these times, a doctor or a spin doctor will do.
From Paul J. Browne, vice president, Office of Public Affairs and Communications of the school: “In accord with medical advice and health protocols, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., today ended the period of quarantine and isolation that he began on Sept. 28. He is symptom-free and looks forward to resuming his normal activities. Father Jenkins again thanked the many people who offered prayers and well wishes for him over the last two weeks.”
But there are many more people who are calling for his head.
Students and faculty were outraged that the university president violated his own mask mandate in public at the White House. And then to only make his hypocrisy worse, he contracted the virus.
“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” Fr. Jenkins posted on the Notre Dame website after his initial infection.
While on quarantine, students and faculty were understandably outraged. The president was a vote away from getting a no-confidence vote from the faculty senate.
More than 200 students circulated a petition calling for Jenkin’s resignation.
If I were a parent sending my kid there, I’d want to know more details about his health for the tuition I’m paying. And I’d at least want to see a more public act of contrition.
Still, as bad as being seen in public, not socially distanced at the White House was, it’s a venal sin compared to this public policy mortal sin: the school’s lack of a more rigorous testing policy.
At reopening, students were required to be tested at the start of the school year, then submit to random surveillance testing. That’s it.
Athletes are required to get tested by the NCAA more regularly. Little wonder the school had to suspend football activities briefly in September. More than 60 percent of the active cases by the end of September were football players.
They did all got a clean bill of health to from the university spin doctor in time to make the game on Saturday where Notre Dame played at home against Florida State.
It looked normal. Notre Dame won 42-13. The alumns were happy. TV audiences got a game. The college got its revenue.
But the school is still not on track to beat the virus.
That will take a much better effort. For starters, adherence to mask wearing.
And then of course, Fr. Jenkins should forget about Trump and his trip to the Rose Garden.
He simply needs to follow the HBCU model of Delaware State’s President Tony Allen.
Testing, testing. And more testing.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @emilamok.