covid-19 cases on campus rising, according to new dashboard

As coronavirus numbers grow, Liberty University launched a COVID-19 dashboard for frequent statistics and updates to keep students, faculty and the Liberty community updated on cases on campus. 

The dashboard went live Wednesday, Sept. 16. Students, faculty and parents can access it to stay up-to-date on how COVID-19 affects the campus. 

The dashboard is located on the Liberty University website under the COVID-19 banner, where users can scroll down to the dashboard section to find the link. On the dashboard, anyone can see the number of active cases on campus over the last 14 days, the total percentage of residential students who test positive, the campus population currently quarantined and the positive daily case count
by date. 

According to Liberty’s COVID-19 protocol, the campus must reach 5% active cases for all classes to go online for two weeks. If the campus hits the 15% mark, classes will go virtual for the remainder of the semester.

As of Sept. 16, there was a total of 141 active coronavirus cases, which is 0.61% of the total campus population. Between on-campus students, commuters and employees, there were 1,118 people in quarantine. This includes those waiting on test results as well as direct contacts of people who tested positive or are awaiting their results. 

Dr. Keith Anderson, the executive director of the student health and wellness, describes the reasoning behind creating a dashboard to update the public.

“We’ve never kept any information away from our students,” Anderson said. “We wanted to provide information at the request of parents and students who wanted a frequent update on the status and to help in the transparency of what was going on campus. We wanted to provide that information with our students.”

Anderson shared that the goal was to keep the dashboard as updated as possible and that it would be updated on a weekly basis.

“We wanted to make sure we were providing real-time, updated information as best we can as we’re navigating through something we’ve never been through before,” he said.

Amy Hermosilla, a sophomore, said the dashboard is so important for students, specifically those that have existing health conditions, to keep up-to date on campus information.

“This information can help fearful students know if their fears are warranted or push students that are less careful to be more cautious,” Hermosilla said.

The change in behavior mentioned by Hermosilla is exactly what Anderson hopes will occur as more information is brought to the dashboard.

Dr. Keith Anderson

“For faculty and staff, it’s important for them to be aware of what’s going on so we can modify behavior,” Anderson said. “If we see an increase, then if we change our behaviors, we should then see a decrease. So if we don’t want the virus to spread, we have to be aware of what our quantities and positive cases are to know how to make adjustments.”

Anderson said it is the personal responsibility of everyone on campus for how or why the numbers rise. Without following the guidelines and keeping social distancing a priority, the number of positive cases will continue to rise, according to Anderson.

“So, the best way to prevent the rise is not by testing. The best way to prevent it is modifying social behavior or social hygiene behavior,” Anderson said. “The testing doesn’t prevent the rise; our behaviors prevent the rise.” 

While the suggestion is to limit social gatherings, Hermosilla understands why this is so difficult for students to have to follow.

“It is difficult for students to not have face-to-face interactions with one another,” she said. “The best part about Liberty is our fellowship with one another, so it is very difficult to stay away from each other.”

Anderson shared his thoughts on how students could best help the campus remain open and continue to be a safe place.

“It’s the personal responsibility of every member of our community to be a champion, so that we can be champions together,” he said.

Stephanie Haydon is a News Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @Steph_Annice.

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