COVID-19 case numbers updated weekly despite new isolation guidelines

Even with the new five day isolation period, Butler’s dashboard reports cases on a seven day cycle. Collegian file photo. 

SARAH NITTI | STAFF REPORTER | snitti@butler.edu 

For the past two years, Butler’s COVID-19 dashboard has been used for public updates on the university’s COVID-19 status. The dashboard is updated on Fridays with the current number of reported active cases on campus. 

Even though the dashboard is supposed to be updated weekly, it has not been updated since Friday, Jan. 28.

Following the CDC’s updated guidelines for a five day isolation period, some active cases will never be included in the dashboard number. For example, a student who tests positive on a Saturday and is asymptomatic will be released from isolation on Wednesday, meaning their case is no longer active when the dashboard is updated on Friday. 

Scott Peden, executive director of student well-being, said in an email to The Butler Collegian that he still sees value in the weekly update. 

“We’ve felt that a weekly update is the most accurate metric to share a real-time picture of what COVID cases look like on campus,” Peden said. “Numbers can change fairly significantly day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour during a surge but in order to show trends and give an accurate depiction of where we are, weekly updates is where we’ve landed.”

The active cases counted on the dashboard include positive tests reported from the HRC or from student and employee health reporting forms. 

Katherine Keller, a first-year healthcare and business major, said she would like to see more guidance on how to access the current positive COVID-19 case numbers. 

“I knew students had to report their positive cases to the school, but I honestly couldn’t tell you how to check it,” Keller said. “I think it would be important for the school to give us more information on where to find this stuff … like active and total case numbers. Especially when there’s room for no longer active cases to potentially not be added into the update.” 

Peden said even though not all cases are on the dashboard, they are still being monitored by the university. He said from Jan. 2 to Feb. 3, the university is aware of 367 students who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“If someone tests positive on a Saturday, they could be cleared prior to the next dashboard update,” Peden said. “That case would not be reflected in the active cases on Friday, but we do internally track it and can view the cumulative number of cases – we just haven’t felt like the cumulative numbers were as important as the real-time information that is provided each Friday.” 

Keller said she believes the dashboard should be updated more frequently in order to accommodate for the shortened isolation time.

“I think they should change the update time to five days, since that is how long one who has COVID would be considered active,” Keller said.

Joey Bucci, a first-year finance and entrepreneurship and innovation double major, said he understands the reasoning behind the updates, but feels that they should be updated according to new guidelines. 

“I think the dashboard makes a lot of sense because it’s public for all students to see,” Bucci said. “If you watch every five days with the updated guidelines, you will not only see how many people have COVID, but you will also see the trend.”

In addition to providing students with accurate case numbers, Bucci said he hopes the university uses the dashboard to determine future COVID-19 restrictions. If the number of cases continues to decrease, Bucci said he would like to see Butler re-evaluate some restrictions like the mask mandate. 

Peden said if students, faculty and staff express a need for more frequent updates on the dashboard, a modification could be considered. 

The COVID-19 dashboard can be found on Butler’s website by clicking on the About section of the menu tab, COVID-19 information and then University COVID-19 Dashboard. 

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