ASU officials: releasing positive COVID-19 cases will not be useful information

Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 22:33:20-04

PHOENIX — Arizona State University officials will not publicly publish their COVID-19 data for how many students or staff members test positive for COVID-19.

In a statement posted online, ASU officials wrote in a FAQ page that knowing the number of COVID-19 cases will not be useful information to members in the ASU community.

“We do not believe that publishing positive case counts contributes to that effort, because knowing how many cases may be present in our community at one time does not give members of our community useful information about whether they particularly may need to take extra precautions,” the statement reads.

The statement goes on to say that the virus is already in Arizona and within the ASU community so they will focus on contact tracing efforts, “our notification efforts are focused on working with students or employees who test positive to determine where on campus they may have been and whom they may have come in contact with, so that we can notify those individuals that they may have been exposed to a positive case, and when they were exposed.”

A member within the ASU community was the first confirmed case in Arizona earlier this year.

The ASU State Press was the first to report on ASU not willing to share the information publicly instead referring students and faculty to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard by zip code.

ASU wrote in its statement that information is posted by Zip codes and ASU campuses and cases can be tracked within those areas.

“Following is a link to the ADHS website that contains its tracking information, including positive cases by the ZIP codes where ASU campuses are located. We report information on positive cases to the Arizona Department of Health Services so that it can be included in this resource,” the statement said.

However, the zip codes where ASU campuses are located becomes irrelevant because not everyone who attends ASU lives within those zip codes. For example, people commute from across the Valley and if they test positive they will be reported in the zip code they live in, like Glendale or Chandler.

When asked about this a spokesperson referred to their online statement saying, “the virus is present in Arizona and within the ASU community, and the ASU community itself is present in many different locations — not all students will be living on campus or even in Arizona, and both students and employees may study or work remotely for all or part of the upcoming semester, as their needs dictate.”

Marin Valentine, a sophomore at ASU questions why this information would not be available, “it’s weird just not knowing how many people are sick, or if the person sitting next to me in class has COVID and then gives it to me,” she said.

ASU known for its innovation has developed a saliva based test that has been said could be a real game changer with getting control of the virus.

The university is doing saliva based testing and reports the numbers and cases directly to Arizona’s Department of Health Services. But, despite this innovative way of testing, they will not report publicly to the ASU community.

Other universities are already reporting this data publicly.

A spokesperson for the University of Arizona said they have been reporting the data for months and update their numbers daily.

As of August 4, UofA reports 73 confirmed positive cases.

ASU has a thorough website dedicated to their Fall reopening plan that will include different options and some classes in person. Part of their plan includes access to COVID-19 testing free of charge for faculty and students.

Results for ASU’s saliva based testing are typically in 24 to 48 hours after being tested.

Along with providing testing ASU officials say students who live on campus are required to take a test.

“Any student living in university housing will be required to be tested — and cleared — for COVID-19 with a PCR test before moving into their campus housing. If you are a student returning to campus but not living in university housing, we strongly recommend that you get tested prior to your arrival on campus. ASU offers a saliva-based COVID-19 test at no cost for students. Results are usually available within 24-48 hours,” the website states.