New data on COVID-19 dashboard offers clearer picture of virus


In response to suggestions from the campus community, the University of Michigan is further refining its COVID-19 dashboard. An updated dashboard was implemented the afternoon of Sept. 24.

The dashboard now includes several new pieces of information:

  • Positive test results from labs not affiliated with U-M that are reported to the Washtenaw County Health Department. 
  • The number of cases in each campus residence hall.
  • Results of the Community Sampling and Tracking Program. 

“It is important that our dashboard evolve to reflect the campus conditions as accurately as possible,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life, executive director of University Health Service and director of the university’s COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee. “The additional datasets help communicate a fuller picture of COVID-19 in the U-M community.”

The dashboard, which launched Aug. 20, includes cumulative data on the total number of tests, the total number of positive cases, test positivity, and the number of students in quarantine or isolation housing since March 8. All of that information will continue to be reflected in the dashboard. 

County data has been included since the launch but was not broken down by affiliation to the university. This information is now included in the main dashboard.

Positivity rates shown on the dashboard for the university community will not change with the addition of the community testing data because only positive test results are reported into the state database of reportable disease. Without knowing how many total tests were administered off campus for U-M community members, it is not possible to calculate the positivity rate of those cases.

Dashboard updates for these new positive results from outside labs may be delayed due to the reporting patterns of laboratories outside the university. Those labs are required to report positive test results to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System, which in turn is accessed by the Washtenaw County Health Department.

MDSS records are tagged by WCHD if individuals have a U-M affiliation, and those cases are in turn referred to U-M’s Environment, Health & Safety unit for case management and contact tracing. The off-campus tests have been reported in Washtenaw County test results. Washtenaw County is listed by the state as being in “risk level C” on a scale of A-E.

Additional information on the dashboard includes state and regional trends, as well as a narrative summary of the testing data. In addition to data from the county health department, the dashboard will continue to provide information on the U-M community tested through UHS, and Occupational Health Services for U-M employees.

The university has conducted case investigations and contact tracing for U-M individuals with positive test results from outside laboratories and health care providers since the beginning of the pandemic through a partnership with the county health department. 

 Environment, Health & Safety will continue to work closely with local public health officials to perform case investigation and contact tracing for all infected students, faculty and staff. Support and space will continue to be available for on-campus and off-campus students who develop symptoms or test positive and need to quarantine or isolate safely.

University officials encourage the campus community to monitor the Campus Maize & Blueprint website for information about community standards, health and safety guidelines, and the many steps the university is taking to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.


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