U of L’s COVID-19 dashboard doesn’t help students Tuesday, Oct 13 2020 

By Zachary Baker-

COVID-19 has shaken our way of life for months and it is continuing to spread even as we hope to move back to some sense of normalcy. For University of Louisville students, and college students across the country, they hope to make informed decisions about being on campus in order to stay safe and protected while furthering their education. 

Unfortunately, it has proven difficult to do so at U of L due to the university’s suspicious communications about its COVID-19 test results. 

At the beginning of the semester, the university said that the administration will be following CDC federal recommendations

Among these recommendations that the administration references, is that mandatory mass testing is not recommended for identifying and preventing the spread of the disease. Instead of mandatory testing, the university would allow for anyone to get tested at will on campus. 

For almost two weeks the university upheld this before suddenly changing their minds and requiring mandatory testing for all students, faculty and staff who frequent campus. The shift by the university came as a surprise, as everyone who had gotten tested previously had to get tested again.

On top of this, the university had promised to update a COVID-19 tracking dashboard regularly to keep students informed. This dashboard does not show active cases or individual people tested but rather total tests completed. 

U of L’s positivity rate is between 2-5% whereas Jefferson County’s rate was 7-10%. It might seem that U of L is doing a great job at preventing the spread of the disease. 

Joshua Pinkston, an economics professor at U of L, has done research into the effects of mandates on the spread of COVID-19. He said when you look at the number of new cases per day on a per capita basis, U of L might not be doing as good with COVID-19 as they say. 

“U of L is clearly doing worse than Jefferson County as a whole,” said Pinkston. 

“The average number of new cases per day per 100,000 over the past week in Jefferson County was 20.6. The university reported 18 new cases per day on average [over the] past 7 days. From what I can find, our students, faculty and staff add up to about 30,000 people. That means that the average daily number of new cases per person for the University is almost three times higher than for Jefferson County as a whole,” Pinkston said. “Anyone who wants to talk about our positivity rate being slightly lower than the surrounding area, also needs to talk about our average daily cases per capita being much higher.”

Pinkston said the university may not want to talk about the number of people tested because compliance with the testing policy has been low.

“My strong suspicion is that they don’t want to report the number of people tested because compliance has been terrible,” he said. “The university’s testing policy has still resulted in a selected subsample of its population being tested, and they don’t seem interested in talking about that.” 

Statistics professionals recognize that the methods used in the dashboard results aren’t accurate to the situation. So why is the university applauding itself for its reactions?

If the reasoning behind it is that they want to keep money coming in for the university then why don’t they come out and admit that to the student body rather than manipulating the entire process? 

The shift in university policy towards COVID-19 is very noticeable.

From a sudden change requiring mass testing in cramped spaces to the unreliable dashboard with statistically problematic numbers, the university is failing its students. The university is putting the student body at risk.

The university is playing a reckless game with student lives without being open about why. If there is to be any honesty, then these dangerous behaviors by the administration need to be called out and the student body needs to be vocal about real change.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post U of L’s COVID-19 dashboard doesn’t help students appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Good intentions lead to reckless results Tuesday, Sep 1 2020 


 By Zachary Baker–

The number of COVID-19 cases in the city of Louisville has been fluctuating in the recent weeks. With schools going back in session, including those that meet in-person, we’re likely to see an increase in cases.

With higher possibilities of an outbreak starting on campus, the student body is looking to the U of L administration for guidance. Instead of proper guidance, the university is changing their policies without warning. This may cause the predicted viral outbreak. 

Before classes began, the administration’s response to the Student Government Association’s letter stated their desire to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal recommendation by not requiring mass testing. 

“We have a robust plan for testing and tracing, and we are urging everyone to get tested. But the CDC specifically states that mandatory testing is not advisable, and multiple lines of evidence demonstrate receiving a negative test encourages risky behavior and has been the direct cause of many outbreaks,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Boehm in a letter to the SGA.

That is a stark difference from an email sent on Aug. 23 that stated within the coming week that testing will be required for all students and faculty. 

This move by the university seems to be with good intentions to protect the student body. But despite efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, their choice of actions may cause a viral outbreak on campus. 

It is important to understand why the federal guidelines said to not require testing: it would encourage negative behaviors within the student body. A group of people who did not want to be tested may receive a negative test and likely decide it is not dangerous to have a party or something similar. 

All it takes is one false negative or someone not yet tested to interact with that group and then you will have people with a “negative test” spreading COVID-19 to many others with negative tests. 

While testing can make us safer, the people most likely to be tested are the ones who wish to also self-isolate afterward. Those who do not want to be tested are likely to not follow the recommended guidelines set forth by the administration. 

Testing has been provided by the university within the first week and the administration has been posting a weekly COVID-19 positive test counter on the U of L website. Until Aug. 25, the counter only listed 53 positive cases.

There are many on-campus who wish to keep themselves and others safe by getting tested, but the university has not been very open about the processes. The positive test counter is not being updated frequently enough to promote confidence in the student body, and the contradictory language by the administration has caused unneeded stress instead. 

“A daily tracker would be invaluable to students who are deciding daily whether it’s safe to go to class in person,” tweeted senior engineering major Emily Walter on Aug. 22.

“We’re still only getting weekly updates, and that’s frankly unacceptable. While I’m thankful our cause count only rose to 90 in the last eight days, it could have been so much worse.”

She added that while she believes U of L is handling safe classroom procedures, they are failing in informing students.

Junior Kirandeep Kaur said that she took a COVID-19 test on Aug. 21, got the results Aug. 22, then was told on Aug. 23 that the mandatory testing protocol would require her to get tested again within the next week.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the poor communication and the risks proposed by students going out after negative testing are worth it if the testing makes us safer. The issue is that the administration’s sudden change in policy has led to a dangerous testing area set up without realistic prep time. 

Today, students went to receive tests at the Student Activity Center testing area. In that one room, there were dozens of students in non-socially distanced space. If at least one is positive then they risk causing an outbreak at the testing sites.

Three weeks ago, we started classes with the expectation the administration is following CDC guidelines to protect us.

As the weeks went on, many students grew concerned with a lack of updates on positive test results. 

Now, despite any good intentions by the administration, the student body is likely more at risk by these changes. We can only hope that this sudden change will not be the cause of a viral outbreak on campus.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Good intentions lead to reckless results appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Five months later, social distancing still applies Tuesday, Aug 18 2020 

By Grace Welsh–

There’s no debating that the last five months of our lives have been full of uncertainty and confusion. We are living through events that no one alive has experienced before.

With the start of a new school year and students returning to campus, the temptation to socialize in big groups is strong. However, it is imperative that we limit these gatherings for the sake of our community. 

Earlier this month, an off-campus party was linked to 29 cases of COVID-19 in U of L athletes. Officials in the department have suspended workouts for men and women’s soccer, field hockey, and volleyball for the next week. They have also dismissed the three men’s soccer members that were responsible for organizing the party.

In a press release last Tuesday, U of L’s Athletic Director Vince Tyra said he was disappointed by the athletes actions. 

“It is clear that these student-athletes did not meet the code of conduct of the university or their team,” Tyra said. “Ignoring the safety protocols issued by federal, state and local officials, as well as the athletic department, is unacceptable and dangerous. Their history of actions are not in alignment with the values of this university and athletics department.” 

A majority of the 29 cases were asymptomatic, but the virus is not something to be messed with. 

The CDC reports that older individuals and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for long-term respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney damage from the virus. So, while you may be fine if you contract the virus, others may not be. 

“Time and time again, it’s shown that transmission is ongoing before we have a grasp of the numbers,” said Erin Welsh, a candidate in disease ecology and host of This Podcast Will Kill You. “This is due to slow testing, transmission before symptoms, and the high numbers of asymptomatic individuals.” 

Because of the high rate of asymptomatic cases, it is impossible to tell who is infected and who is not without a test. Therefore, it is best to keep the parties to an absolute minimum. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear highly encourages gatherings of no more than 10 people. 

A party with just one or two infected individuals can be deadly when the newly infected people go out in the community.

We don’t know how long it will take for things to return back to normal. Until then, it’s important that we do our part to exercise necessary health precautions. Wash your hands frequently, wear a mask in public and stay at least six feet apart from others. 

We are all in this together.

Let’s all put in the effort to stay home so we can protect our community and slow the spread. While it is definitely tempting to socialize with everyone you missed over quarantine, that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t still a prevalent part of our lives.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Five months later, social distancing still applies appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

U of L processing more coronavirus test results Thursday, Apr 9 2020 

By Matthew Keck — 

The University of Louisville has increased its efforts with coronavirus testing to help fight the fatal pandemic.

Researchers at U of L are processing test results from 12 different hospitals, U of L Campus Health and four outpatient clinics in the Louisville area. As of April 1, they have processed 1,797 tests, with more than 1,000 of them coming from Norton Healthcare.

Out of the 1,797 tests thus far, there have been 204 positive results.

U of L executive vice president for research and innovation Kevin Gardner said they now have to capacity to test up to 1,000 cases per day. Other U of L researchers have put their duties on hold to devote their time to fighting this virus.

Last week, U of L Health opened the first drive-thru testing in Kentucky. As a part of this effort, the drive-thru testing will be processing up to 200 cases per day.

According to Gardner, U of L’s efforts are producing test results within 24 hours. This quick turnaround allows hospitals to isolate patients and healthcare providers with COVID-19. Along with that, they can move others out of isolation, saving protective medical equipment that is low across the state.

This processing is also an effort to help researchers answer questions about the deadly COVID-19. They are hoping to find how the virus has spread, how it progresses and who gets it. U of L is also working on long-term approaches to the virus.

Kenneth Palmer, director of U of L’s Center for Preventive Medicine, is testing potential treatments, one of which was developed at U of L in partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh.

Support for this research includes $500,000 in funding from U of L, but the university is asking for those able to make a donation for further support.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

The post U of L processing more coronavirus test results appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

U of L Health opens drive-thru COVID-19 testing Thursday, Mar 26 2020 

By Matthew Keck — 

The University of Louisville began drive-thru COVID-19 testing March 26. The drive-thru is located in the U of L Health parking lot on Brook Street between Muhammad Ali and Liberty Street.

Dr. Hugh Shoff, chief quality officer for U of L Health, said that the drive-thru is an effective way to keep potentially infected patients from spreading the virus.

“Really what we want to do is centralize this to get it away from our clinics so that our patients aren’t exposing those other patients that are just there for routine care,” Shoff said.

Patients who want to be tested at the drive-thru must be referred by their doctor first.

Healthcare workers in protective gear are set up to swab the inside of patient’s noses while they remain in their cars. After the swabbing, the sample is placed in a test tube and sent to a lab to be tested for COVID-19.

The typical turnaround time for testing results is several days, possibly longer. There were around 12 patients tested at the drive-thru March 26.

Currently, the state of Kentucky has tested 4,016 people for the COVID-19 virus. Of that number, there have been 248 positive cases confirmed. Jefferson and Fayette County have the most reported cases in the state.

U of L Health said they plan to have more patients approved for their drive-thru testing in the coming weeks.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

The post U of L Health opens drive-thru COVID-19 testing appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.