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University COVID-19 Dashboard

Aug. 28, 2020

Dear members of the SLU community,

I write to announce the University’s interactive data dashboard where we will house all publicly available COVID-19 information. It will be updated Mondays and Thursdays.

The dashboard includes the previous 10 days’ worth of information about the number of students who have been tested and the number who have tested positive.

This is the first iteration of the dashboard. The future version will have details about quarantine and isolation housing, and COVID-19 cases pertaining to non-healthcare University employees, which are currently at zero.

In the meantime, here are some details about the numbers of COVID-19-positive or COVID-19-suspected students in 10-day isolation, and the numbers of close contacts in 14-day quarantine:

In my message to you last week, I noted that 22 residential students (out of 3,497 tested) had tested positive prior to move-in. Thankfully, most of those students have since completed their 10-day isolation period and are moved into their own on-campus residences and have started in-person classes.

When we tested just fewer than 800 asymptomatic off-campus students –– which, again, was optional –– 13 students tested positive. Our overall positivity rate from our COVID-19 screening conducted at move-in was 0.8 percent.

Since move-in, we have tested primarily students who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The positivity rate among these mostly symptomatic students we have tested averages 12.3 percent. This higher positivity rate is not unexpected for this small group. But it also points to the fact that nearly 9 in 10 students did not test positive for COVID-19, despite experiencing symptoms that we all know are common among other ailments. Kudos to those students who recognized COVID-19 symptoms and quickly contacted Student Health. They acted in the best interests of our University community.

When looking at the dashboard, it is important to understand the data is subject to change. Most changes are due to lab turnaround time, which results in a 2-3-day delay in having final test results. Our lab partner turnaround time is in line with the statewide average. Tests are recorded by the date the test was administered. Therefore, the number of cases on a given day may go up a few days later when tests results become available. There is no accurate way to update data in real time.

Additional COVID-19 Testing

Many have asked what SLU’s plan for continuous testing of asymptomatic students will look like. Experts from our College for Public Health & Social Justice and School of Medicine are considering alternative approaches. This is a priority for us, and as soon as we have more information, we will share it with the campus — consistent with our transparent approach thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a student is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately contact the Student Health Center at 314-977-2323 to discuss testing options. Similarly, if a student has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they should contact the Student Health Center.

Additional Resources and Reminders

I want to close by again thanking our students, staff, and faculty who are masking up, keeping 6 feet apart, and following all public health guidance to make this fall semester possible. I also want to thank those who have written to express their appreciation for how our staff and faculty have gone out of their way to provide support and answer questions. And I know that we are all grateful for our front-line healthcare providers and those SLU scientists who are providing cutting-edge research on the virus and potential treatments. 

We are OneSLU.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
President