For years twin sisters Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight have used YouTube and Instagram to share with their millions of followers their hair styling tips, dating lives, dental adventures and college experience at Baylor University. Now they can add an unwelcome topic to the list: Battling COVID-19.
The twins, who live off campus, shared on Instagram that they tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, less than a week after class started at Baylor. Since class started Aug. 24, 408 new COVID-19 cases have been reported among the Baylor University’s students, faculty and staff.
“Brooklyn and I live with two other roommates who have also been unbelievably careful,” Bailey wrote on Instagram. “Baylor is contact tracing every positive case, and unfortunately both roommates were listed as contacts by someone who tested positive.”
The post states within a few days of self-isolating at home, three of the four roommates began showing symptoms and took tests provided by Baylor.
The sisters’ post came just a day before Baylor announced 21 freshmen living in one of the university’s residence halls would be moved to isolation housing after testing positive for the virus. Another 34 have been quarantined inside the dorms and will be tested. Since Aug. 1, there have been 647 cases connected to the university and 21,550 tests conducted, including mail-in tests each student, faculty and staff member had to take before returning to campus for the fall semester.
With 6.9 million YouTube subscribers, the twins from Lovejoy in Collin County have become famous for chronicling their everyday lives.
For a recent feature series called “10 Dates in 10 Days,” on their YouTube channel, Brooklyn went to Utah to shoot footage with young men in early August. In some of the videos she wears masks and observes social distancing, though in others she does not.
The twins’ post states that Brooklyn tested negative before returning to campus, and they are uncertain how she contracted the virus, though they are certain it was not through Baylor classes. They said they have followed recommended precautions recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and they urged others to follow them as well.
The pair, now in their third year at Baylor with plans to graduate early, entered into a marketing agreement with the university in 2017 to make promotional posts. While their post about contracting the virus discusses the university’s COVID-19 policies, it was not sponsored content.
“We currently have a marketing agreement with the twins that includes one to two paid posts each semester that are clearly indicated as sponsored per FCC guidelines,” said Jason Cook, Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications.
Cook said the university’s surveillance testing program will roll out this week. To help track the spread of the virus, 5% of students, faculty, staff and contract workers will be randomly selected to take a COVID-19 test each week, which breaks down to 250 on-campus students, 480 off-campus students, 175 faculty and staff working on-campus and 300 contract staff.
“We anticipate a drop in the positivity rate, as last week we were only testing symptomatic students,” Cook said.
Students who suspect they have COVID-19 begin their self-isolation or quarantine after taking a test. Symptomatic students can go to Student Health Services or a MyLabs Direct station on campus for tests, and some of the Everlywell brand mail-in tests from before the start of the semester are still trickling in as well.
Cook said new cases are reported on the day a student tests positive, not on the day the test result came in, and the numbers reported on the university’s COVID-19 dashboard are likely to change as test results become available. Student Health Services’ testing usually produces the fastest results, but the mail-in tests and MyLabs Direct tests will likely lag behind and be added to the final count days later. Most of the uncounted mail-in tests are coming from faculty and staff who have not yet returned to campus
“We’re not reporting on the date the results came back, but the date that test was given,” Cook said.
Cook also said reports of students not wearing masks or gathering in large groups have trickled in from security guards and through the university’s online reporting system, but the majority of the spread seems to be occurring off-campus.