Ten days after the last update in student COVID-19 cases, the University of Kentucky unveiled its new “data dashboard” to aid in tracking numbers associated with the pandemic.
Here are the most recent coronavirus numbers on campus:
In essence, 459 students currently have coronavirus, an additional 358 have already had it and recovered, and 31 new students tested positive in the Sept. 1 report. According to the dashboard, these numbers are cumulative from July 20-Sept. 1 and include results from all 25,373 total student tests. If only a combined 817 UK students have contracted the virus out of 25,000, then we’re doing alright.
To push back on this report, it certainly feels like more than 459 students currently have COVID. Personally, my quintet of former roommates all have it right now, as do several other friends of mine. A few of them don’t even count towards the above dashboard-reported number because they were tested off campus through a provider other than the university, which is a factor worth monitoring. If, on repeat tests, the students are going through testing centers other than UK, are their numbers being reported?
No, they aren’t. I know when I was rapid-tested at a First Care in Winchester, those results were never given to UK. Had I tested positive, I wouldn’t have counted on the dashboard. So these numbers, while pretty low compared to a few other colleges of our size, may be misleading considering how many kids are taking their second and third tests — seemingly when they thought they had the virus — through other medical centers.
Even with a high volume of unreported cases, the official positivity rate and total numbers reported by UK are what will decide issues like whether to move classes exclusively online or close campus back down.
Further down the dashboard, UK provides an update for on-campus students who have tested positive:
Students living on campus or in Fraternity and Sorority houses are provided extra rooms in Kentucky dorms to isolate and recover. Good planning. Currently, occupancy is at 41 percent for the University’s isolation rooms, which tells me UK hasn’t been completely overwhelmed by positive on-campus cases, at least not at this point. UK has 94 students isolating on campus (including those in the FSL facilities, too) while the rest of the positive testers are (hopefully) quarantining somewhere off-campus.
For now, I don’t think the number of active cases (459) is a number worth panicking over, although we’d definitely like to see it go down. The bigger problem is whether those numbers are a remotely-accurate representation of how many total cases there are among UK students. Like I said, if students are, for the most, part testing through other, quicker-result testing centers outside the University’s web, how do we know the true ballpark of the number of cases?
We don’t, unfortunately, and it’s almost certain that 459 number is heavily underselling the actual amount of positive COVID-19 cases among students at Kentucky. Should students be required to report every test they receive to the University? There’s probably no realistic way of governing that.
Stay safe, students of Kentucky, and let’s keep it rolling for at least another week or two. Hopefully, by next week, we’ll have somewhat of a snapshot of total cases, as ugly as that “new” number may be.