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Morehouse School of Medicine sharing how they kept their COVID-19 rate under 1%

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 6:44 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Some parts of the country are seeing an increase in COVID-19 infections. Twenty-seven states are seeing a rise, but Georgia is not one of them at this time.

Morehouse School of Medicine has been one of the leading examples of COVID safety and mitigation practices as it re-opened at the height of the pandemic. Morehouse School of Medicine has kept its COVID rate under 1% since the start of the pandemic.

They’ve been so successful that they have launched a podcast to tell others about their model.

Morehouse School of Medicine student Naomi Coles and her classmates have become accustomed to weekly testing that the school required. She says they underwent weekly COVID testing even when they were taking classes virtually at the school. “Now that we’re back on campus we still keep with that cadence of testing once a week,” she told CBS46.

They’re part of a community of nearly 2,000 people at the campus testing and tracking COVID each week. “We’re all future health professionals,” Coles said adding that her colleagues are expected to set an example of integrity. “Our main goal is protecting ourselves and each other and so even with the relaxing of mask mandates many of us still wear our masks.”

MSM has maintained its low COVID positivity rate throughout the two-year pandemic.

“Pre Omicron, it was down to less than 0.5%,” said Medical Director Dr. Michelle Nichols, who is a professor of family medicine.

“We never shut our clinics down,” Nichols told CBS46. “We have been able to bring back a sense of normalcy to the community,” she added as they allow masks to be optional in the restricted campus setting.

Nichols tells says MSM is one of the few colleges in the country to re-open and return to class in May of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

They required testing each week and contract testing. They taped off 6-foot distance on the floors, and pushed hand washing and masking when masks were required. They also required everyone to be vaccinated.

“We did a personal contract with everyone. By that, it’s saying you’re going to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your community safe,” Nichols said.

The students and faculty didn’t simply return to the classroom, they returned to the community testing South Atlanta and the West End, vaccinating people who could and offering booster shots and healthcare in their clinic.

Dr. Christopher Ervin helps engage the surrounding community in COVID prevention and safety as the school commits itself to community service. “The safety behaviors that Morehouse School of Medicine has instituted has translated to all the other campuses as well,” he said looking out at the campuses of Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark-Atlanta University across the street.

MSM students and faculty see themselves as a model for other schools and companies as normalcy and safety continue to merge.

“We developed a tool kit for how do you do this,” Nichols said. “We want people to see this is possible you just have to have a commitment,” she added.

The school’s podcast can be found here.