Michigan Engineering Student Dies Of Coronavirus Weeks Before Graduation, Was Repeatedly Denied Testing

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Written by Ann Brown
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Michigan engineering student Bassey Offiong died of the coronavirus just weeks before his graduation. He had been repeatedly denied testing. Photo: Facebook, Bassey Offiong

Bassey Offiong, a college senior majoring in chemical engineering at Western Michigan University, had just weeks to go before graduation. On March 28, the 25-year-old college student succumbed to COVID-19, WXYZ reports.

Offiong reportedly had no known prior health issues.

The Detroit native’s death was confirmed by school and county officials, following a university report that the school had three confirmed coronavirus cases.

Offiong had “enormous potential,” the university’s president said of the student in a press statement.

“On behalf of the entire Bronco community, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his entire family, including his sister Asari, who has been generous in communicating with us regularly,” WMU’s president, Edward Montgomery said.

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Offiong’s case is considered tragic not only because of his contracting COVID-19, but because Offiong was rejected for coronavirus testing several times while living off-campus in the Kalamazoo area despite symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and a fever, his sister told the Detroit News.

“I told him to ask them to test him,” Asari Offiong told the newspaper. “He said they refused to test him.”

According to Asari, one of the places that refused to test him said he had bronchitis. Offiong said she wasn’t ready to disclose the names of the facilities that denied her brother testing.

Her brother died after spending a week on a ventilator at a hospital in Royal Oak, The New York Post reported.

“I know God has him in his presence,” Asari said. “He loved God.”

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People are being denied testing all across the country due to CDC guidelines for testing and the lack of tests available. 

“States determine who is eligible for public COVID-19 testing in accordance with CDC guidelines,” The Washington Post reported. “In the early weeks of the outbreak, as the CDC struggled to roll out tests, the agency strictly limited testing to those most likely to be infected and most in need of acute care. Even a person with a fever and a cough who had traveled to a country with widespread community transmission such as China, Iran or Italy could not get tested unless they were sick enough to be hospitalized.”