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Tech coronavirus case reporting coming soon

Friday, September 18, 2020

Louisiana Tech University announced Thursday it would soon be releasing an online dashboard to report the number of positive COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff, in advance of a similar report on the way from the Louisiana Department of Health for all state institutions.

In an online update letter, Tech President Les Guice said leaders from Louisiana’s fourand two-year college systems recently met with the LDH to work on plans to deliver case data on an individual campus level. He said LDH will begin collecting that data today, and the first round of results will be released Wednesday.

These reports from the LDH will be updated weekly.

Tech’s own dashboard is set to release before the LDH data. The numbers will rely on self-reported positive cases from students, faculty and staff based on Tech’s reporting protocol established this summer.

“In order to bring this data together, we have had to examine the nature of testing and whether students are learning remotely or on our campus,” Guice said. “We have also had to consider the challenge of maintaining accurate data when it is self-reported. Other challenges with reporting that we discovered in the spring are tied to our ability to preserve the privacy of students, faculty, and staff on a relatively small and well-connected campus.”

The numbers will include individuals who were not on campus at any time in the period they contracted the virus, such as online-only students. But officials said the dashboard will not delineate between on-campus and off-campus cases.

Guice also highlighted the university’s contact tracing efforts. As a positive case of COVID-19 is reported, a team of campus leaders makes contact with the individual to determine anyone who may qualify as a close contact under Centers for Disease Control guidelines. That means anyone who was within six feet of a positive case for more than 15 minutes without a mask on.

Anyone who the contact tracing team determines fits this definition is asked to quarantine for 14 days and will not be allowed on campus during that time.

“I appreciate all of you for being so re sponsive to these calls,” Guice said. “This enables us to slow the spread so that fewer people get exposed.”

The university also began walk-up COV-ID-19 screenings at the Ropp Center on campus Thursday in addition to the ongoing drivethrough testing in the Joe Aillet Stadium parking lot. The walk-up testing will continue today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The drive-through testing will be offered today at the same time and each week day next week as well.