Positive COVID cases reach 385, testing extended until end of semester Monday, Sep 21 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now at 385, out of a total of 24,092 administered tests. U of L’s cumulative positivity rate is still slowly rising as well, currently it is at 1.60% as of Sept. 21.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman was unable to confirm how many of these cases are still active.

“The data that the university is making available to the public is reported on U of L’s COVID website,” he said.

However, the Cardinal was able to find a report by the Kentucky Public Health office, that said U of L has three active COVID-19 cases among students as of Sept. 19.

Karman could not confirm these three cases or if there are anymore active cases on campus.

“I’ve provided all of the information that is available to me,” he said.

He did tell the Cardinal that free testing for all on-campus individuals is extended until the end of the semester. More information on testing locations and where to register for tests has not been released yet.

Students, faculty and staff who frequent campus are required by the Student Code of Conduct and Redbook to get tested for COVID-19. Those who do not get tested may face disciplinary action.

Although, Karman said no action has been taken yet on individuals who have not been tested.

“While the university has the ability to discipline students, faculty and staff who have not been tested,” he said. “It has chosen, to this point, not to do so.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Positive COVID-19 cases at U of L rise above 300 Friday, Sep 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia — 

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases at the University of Louisville has risen to 315 as of Sept. 11. This is out of 21,097 total tests administered, making the cumulative positivity rate 1.49%.

U of L’s Athletics department makes up 93 of those positive cases according to Associate Athletic Director Kenny Klein.

When asked what number of these positive cases are currently active, U of L Director of Communications John Karman said that he did not have any more information beyond what is posted on the dashboard.

Previously Karman told the Cardinal that U of L had 40 beds available for isolating individuals positive with COVID-19. At this time, Karman said that the university is “not near capacity,” but did not provide a statistic as to what capacity of those beds were filled.

Compared to other universities, U of L is doing well in terms of preventing the spread of the virus.

Phillip Bressoud, executive director of campus health, said in a U of L News release on Sept. 1 that there were many factors that went into U of L’s early success. Including U of L’s contact tracing efforts, limiting of large gatherings on and off campus, and the university community’s adherence to protocols laid out by the university and state.

However, the university’s testing dashboard is bare of information compared to these other universities.

The University of Kentucky’s dashboard includes breakdowns of cases by university population (students/faculty/staff), how many cases are still active and to what capacity their isolation spaces are filled.

When asked if there was a reason U of L wasn’t being as transparent with this information as other universities have, Karman said that “U of L is providing information consistent with the governor’s office.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L nears 300 positive COVID-19 tests Friday, Sep 4 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

As Labor Day weekend begins, positive cases for the coronavirus continue to rise at the University of Louisville. U of L updated its dashboard Sept. 4 adding another 29 cases to this week’s total. The cumulative number of positive COVID-19 tests is now at 280 with an overall positivity rate of 1.52%.

This number does not include positive cases within the athletic department. Associate Athletic Director Kenny Klein said as of Sept. 4, the department has tested 92 positive cases since June 2.

With Labor Day this weekend and the 146th annual Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, Student Body President Sabrina Collins reminded students to stay safe this weekend and continue following CDC and university guidelines.

“The COVID pandemic is far from over, and safety must remain the highest priority. We are exceptionally pleased with how our fellow students have kept each other safe during these first few weeks of the semester,” Collins said. “Keeping our campus safe is a community effort. Please consider your fellow Cardinals this weekend so we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.”

Collins and other Top 4 members of SGA also told students that they should avoid attending or hosting any large gatherings of 10 or more people this weekend.

“Note that per the Code of Student Conduct 2020-2021 , ‘the University may take conduct action against a student(s) or student organization(s) who fail to follow federal, state, U of L, local and/or pandemic public health guidelines as established and distributed by the University,'” Collins said. “It is not worth jeopardizing the safety of others or your status as a student or student organization. ”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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University extends COVID-19 testing, reports 32 new cases Thursday, Sep 3 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University extends required COVID-19 testing through Sept. 11 and warns community of weekend events.

“We recognize the impact various events and situations have had on our campus community’s ability to meet the COVID-19 testing requirement,” an email cosigned by university officials on Sept. 3 said. It included signatures from Provost Beth Boehm, Vice President for Research and Innovation, Kevin Gardner, Dean of Students Michael Mardis and Director of Campus Health Phillip Bressoud.

“Starting next week, any student, faculty or staff member on campus who has not had a COVID-19 test performed on or since Aug. 24, must do so by Sept. 11,” they said.

It is recommended to schedule an appointment ahead of time, however walk-ins are welcome. Extended testing will be available at these locations from Sept. 8 through Sept. 11:

  • Cardinal Stadium: Purple “A” Lot (drive thru) // 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m.
  • University Club: Ballroom // 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m.
  • Abell Administration Building (HSC): Rooms 109 and 110 // 7-11 a.m. and 12-4 p.m.

Testing is free, but students, faculty and staff will need to bring their university id and insurance card. Be prepared to provide your social security number to testing officials if you do not have your insurance card or insurance. If your test comes back positive, you will receive a call from Campus Health, otherwise all test results will be texted to the number you provide at registration.

Previously, the university said students and staff who do not follow the mandatory testing would be subject to disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct and Redbook respectively.

U of L’s testing dashboard was recently updated on Sept. 2 as well. As of then, U of L reports 32 new positive cases out of almost 1,600 tests administered in one day. This brings the university’s total number of positive COVID-19 tests to 249.

The dashboard, now updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, does not factor in the athletics department’s cases. With those 90 cases added, U of L then has a total of 339 positive cases.

This is still much lower than some Kentucky universities. Take U of L’s biggest rival, the University of Kentucky, which reports 435 active cases as of Aug. 30.

“We are pleased that our students, faculty and staff have taken the COVID-19 situation so seriously,” Phillip Bressoud, executive director of campus health, said in a U of L News press release. “The fears so many had expressed have not materialized. Now it is up to us to continue the good work to ensure our semester can continue without many of the issues other schools are facing.”

Bressoud said that there were many factors that went into U of L’s early success. Including U of L’s contact tracing efforts, limiting of large gatherings on and off campus, and the university community’s adherence to protocols laid out by the university and state.

“Our university community has done a great job with wearing masks and practicing physical distancing on campus,” the Sept. 3 email said. “We see it when walking across campus and we see it in our good testing results.”

However, with Labor Day weekend, the Kentucky Derby and the football season about to begin on Sept. 12, Bressoud, and other university officials on the email letter, warned that student’s faculty and staff should still be cautious of the virus.

“We know from watching other universities that it only takes one or two incidents to set off a COVID-19 outbreak,” Bressoud said. “While we are so appreciative of our students and our community taking precautions so far, we need them to keep up the good work.”

In their email, university officials reminded students the pandemic is far from over.

“Assume other around you have the virus: wear your mask, practice physical distancing of at least six feet and wash your hands frequently,” they said. “These actions truly make a difference and can save lives.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L reports 38 new COVID cases in first week of school Tuesday, Aug 25 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville had 38 new cases of COVID-19 last week.  Of 2,615 new tests, 38 came back positive.

This brings U of L’s cumulative total of positive cases to 90 out of almost 5,000 administered tests over the past two weeks. The positivity rate is now 1.83%.

This number does not include the 85 positive cases in the athletics department. Those numbers won’t be updated until later this week said Kenny Klein, associate athletics director.

Since Aug. 17, the university has switched its stance on at-will testing and has now made testing mandatory for all students, faculty and staff who come to campus. In an email sent Aug. 25, the Pivot to Fall Committee reported that more than 1,400 people – almost one third of the total who participated in the previous two weeks – were tested Aug. 24. Evening hours for all Belknap testing locations have also been added from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“We are pleased to see the positivity rate decline but even more pleased to announce that we have greatly increased the number of contact tracers in our employ to 8 FTE,” the committee said. “We remain hopeful that the combination of testing, tracing and good hygiene will enable us to continue normal operations.”

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the change to mandatory testing came to better see how the university is doing in preventing the spread of the virus.

“We need more comprehensive data to ensure we are controlling any spread on campus, allowing us to continue to offer classes as designed for the duration of fall semester,” Karman said.

Individuals who refuse to get tested before Sept. 4 may face disciplinary action from the university Karman said.

“Students who don’t comply will be subject to discipline under the Student Code of Conduct. Similarly, faculty and staff may be subject to discipline under the Redbook,” he said. “The dean of students’ office, department heads and supervisors will receive notification of who has been tested.”

Online, students have criticized the university for their transparency on reporting COVID cases.

Since launching the testing dashboard, U of L has released data on how many tests have been administered and how many have come back positive. This information is updated by Campus Health every Tuesday. Students are saying that’s not enough.

Nick Beeny, a senior music education major, is one of those criticizing the university’s actions. He said weekly testing doesn’t give students enough time to make informed decisions on how they should take their classes.

“I honestly think the bare minimum should be daily updates,” Beeny said. “We are expected to make decisions on whether or not we feel safe and whether it would be better to take remote classes, however we really aren’t given enough data to make informed decisions. Before a week is up, case counts could spike dramatically and we wouldn’t know about it until later.”

Student Government President Sabrina Collins said she and other Top 4 members have expressed their concerns to university admin and asked to begin posting daily updates.

“We have encouraged the administration to provide the most up-to-date testing information to the student body as they receive it,” Collins said. “We were told they would ‘pass it on.'”

Karman said the numbers aren’t released daily because they can “greatly fluctuate.”

“Think about it this way: What if we had 35 cases on a Monday and zero cases the other four days? If we released information daily, the Monday figures would badly skew the data and probably create undue concern,” Karman explained. “By having a week’s worth of numbers, we have a better indication of the real positivity rate on campus.”

Beeny, like other students on Twitter, isn’t buying it though.

“The state has been doing [daily updates] for the entire pandemic,” he said. “Concern and due diligence are warranted in a pandemic as dangerous as this one. The students here are smart and know how this works. Governor Beshear has been a calming voice throughout all of this and has been working together with experts to make sure the public understands what is going on – I would expect the same from the university.”

In a survey Beeny did, out of 400 responses, more than 80% agreed or strongly agreed updates should be daily. “When it’s weekly, it almost feels as if something is being hidden and students are being kept in the dark,” Beeny said.

One fear lingering in Beeny’s mind is that the university is putting tuition money above student health.

“I hope this is just the cynic in me, but it’s hard to look at what has happened these past few days and not consider that as a possibility,” he said. “The sudden switch from voluntary to mandatory testing right after the add/drop and tuition deadlines. Tuition insurance seems like a half measure at best. Transparency on processes and decision making would certainly help in this regard and would bring peace of mind to many students.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L makes COVID testing mandatory effective immediately Sunday, Aug 23 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

In an abrupt shift, the university is now requiring all students, faculty and staff be tested for COVID-19, effective immediately.

In the email cosigned by members of the Pivot to Fall committee, they say more than 4,000 people have been tested in the past two weeks. However, the testing dashboard, last updated Aug. 17,  still sits at 2,621 administered tests.

Testing is required for:

  • Faculty who are on campus, or come to campus on occasion.
  • Anyone who works as staff on campus, or those staff who frequently come to campus.
  • Students living in residential dorms, campus-affiliated housing or who attend in-person classes.

The new mandatory testing will also require people who have tested negative to be re-tested by Sept. 4, which is when the recent extension for free testing is scheduled to end.

While walk-ins are welcome at all testing locations, the university still recommends that people register an appointment beforehand.

Testing Locations (available Monday-Friday):

  • Student Activities Center: 8 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m.
  • Cardinal Stadium Purple “A” Lot (drive-through): 8 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m. (Closed Sept. 3 and 4.)
  • Student Recreation Center: 8 a.m. to noon, 1 -5 p.m.
  • Abell Administration Building (HSC): 7-11 a.m., noon to 4 p.m.

This story will be updated.

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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