FAMU’s COVID dashboard far from accurate

Current numbers for FAMU’s dashboard. Photo courtesy FAMU.edu

Florida A&M has been working to prevent the unnecessary spread of COVID-19 across the university’s campus. Tools such as rapid COVID testing sites on campus, the newly opened vaccine site at the Lawson Center and the dashboard online that purportedly reports all of positive cases.

 But how effective is the dashboard if the students dont report their positive tests?

As we all know, FAMU relies on students and staff who test positive to self-report to Student Health Services. Many students are either completely unaware or ashamed to share their status with the administration.

One FAMU student, who did not want to be named, claims that there was no point in reporting her positive status because they live in off-campus housing.

I only go to campus for the library and maybe to get some food while im there,” the student said,Once I got my results back, I didnt want to go through the process of reporting it so I just self-quarrineted until I felt good enough to go back for re-testing.”

After opening the campus with slightly new moderations to social structure, according to the dashboard as of Aug. 1, FAMU has reported that it has had only 521 cases; of those, a total of 421 are students.

The requirements to self-report your cases have many wondering if the dashboard is truly beneficial, especiallyif the students dont report.

A freshman who lives on campus in one of the more popular student housing facilities says that a friend who lives down the hall had contracted the virus last month.

She told me that she had caught COVID-19 and did not want to tell anyone because she had no symptoms,” the student said:She continued to go to the cafe and act like nothing was wrong and she actually said to me that because she wore a mask she was still  being safe.”

Expecting students to self-report will most certainly skew the data that can be seen on the dashboard.

According to the dashboard located on famu.edu,Faculty, students and staff at all University locations will report any positive test results through the FAMU Mobile App and to the Director of Student Health Services, Tanya Tatum … The data displayed in this dashboard is based on information provided to the University through self-reporting, surveillance and the University COVID-19 App. This data includes FAMU Developmental Research School (DRS) employees.”

Encouraging students to self-report once they test positive can not only help make the tool more useful. It is also a great start to knowing how to move forward during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.