American universities lack standardized system to track COVID-19 cases
According to a recent survey conducted by The New York Times, more than 6,600 coronavirus cases have been found on college campuses nationwide.
The survey included data from UC Davis, which currently has 47 cases, making it the fifth most heavily affected UC campus as of this week.
By comparison, UC Berkeley has 123 cases, UCLA has 101 cases, UC Irvine has 77 cases, UC Riverside has 16 cases, UC Santa Cruz has 11 cases and UC Santa Barbara has 6 cases.
UC Davis has implemented an online process that allows employees, staff, and students to report confirmed cases of exposure to or diagnoses with COVID-19 in the university community.
The site also includes a workflow outlining both medical and public relations responses to reports of the virus. The first step involves UC Davis Medical Center coordinating a plan with members of the Yolo County health department. Then, “affected areas” will be isolated “as needed,” guided by Student Health or Occupational Health.
These two organizations will determine whether the aforementioned area has been sufficiently disinfected and whether the affected individual can return to campus. In turn, campus leadership is informed and the appropriate departments are notified.
Certain campus communities are at a particularly high risk of catching COVID-19. There are more than 630 cases of coronavirus on 68 different campuses across 130 universities competing in Division-I football, for example. Clemson University currently has 47 cases of COVID-19 in the entirety of its Division-I athletic department, making its department the most heavily affected according to the survey. UC Berkeley’s Division-I athletic department currently has 3 cases.
The survey had only partial data from some colleges that weren’t tracking COVID-19 diagnoses, refused to disclose statistics due to privacy concerns or did not respond to inquiries. Of the universities that responded to the survey, the University of Texas Austin appears to be the most heavily affected, with 449 recorded cases. The publication of these statistics comes as universities decide whether to continue with online instruction or offer socially distanced in-person classes to students.
UC Davis will be offering all Fall Quarter classes with greater than or equal to 50 attendees remotely, but will offer some in-person classes outdoors, according to a letter from UC Davis Provost Mary Croughan and Kristen Lagattuta sent to teaching faculty and staff on July 17.
“When feasible, this in-person instruction will take place outdoors under tents, with necessary AV and audio equipment, physical distancing of six feet and all participants required to wear masks,” Croughan and Lagattuta wrote.
The information in the survey also remains incomplete because American college campuses lack a “standardized” system currently in place for monitoring the virus on American college campuses. According to the New York Times survey, information is not being publicly tracked at a national level.” At least 14 COVID-19 related deaths have happened at universities nationwide, the article asserted.
UC Davis updates its COVID-19 case data every Monday.
Melissa Lutz-Blouin, UC Davis Director of News and Media Relations, said via email that the campus leadership will not be sending out weekly updates detailing current COVID-19 cases. When asked by The California Aggie to explain why, Lutz-Blouin did not comment.
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — firstname.lastname@example.org