UF COVID-19 tracking

UF changed its COVID-19 dashboard Tuesday afternoon to display daily totals of tests and positive cases. It previously didn’t do either.

A new chart at the top of the dashboard displays the total number of tests and positive cases recorded every day instead of a cumulative count since May. The chart displays tests from all testing sites as one number.

UF Health’s spokesperson Ken Garcia said the new dashboard better represents daily trends.

The former dashboard used to display the total percent positivity rates since May, rather than the daily rates. Tests completed at the Student Health Care Center were previously reported separate from those that weren’t, due to it testing mostly symptomatic students. 

The student positivity rates were split by those tested at the Student Health Care Center and those who weren’t after UF Health’s dashboard displayed a 25% positivity rate among students in July.

This number only accounted for symptomatic students tested at the Student Health Care Center, said UF Health Screen, Test & Protect Director Michael Lauzardo. 

For three days this month — Oct. 4, Oct. 8 and Oct. 11 — the previous dashboard showed zero new tests or cases.

Numbers from Oct. 4 are missing from the new chart, but as of Tuesday night, the new dashboard reflects changes for Oct. 8 — 1,168 tests and 51 positive cases — and Oct. 11 — 291 tests and 29 positive cases.

No tests or positive cases were displayed for Oct. 4 but another chart on the dashboard shows 35 people who tested positive began feeling symptoms that day.

This chart, which was a part of the old dashboard, displays what day each COVID-positive individual started feeling symptoms. Through contact tracing, cases are retroactively added, Garcia wrote.

“Ideally, we aim to update within 24 hours, but occasionally there are delays,” Garcia wrote. “We post as soon as we receive data.”

As of Tuesday night, UF has seen 3,269 positive COVID-19 cases since May, according to the dashboard. There have been 2,333 cases so far this Fall semester. 

The first two weeks of October saw fewer cases than the first two weeks of September: 328 positive cases among UF students and faculty for October, 922 positive cases for September, according to the university’s dashboard.

More than 200 of October’s cases have been added to the dashboard in this past week alone.

Alachua County has had more than 9,000 positive cases and 70 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic escalated in the U.S. in March, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.

This semester’s largest surge in cases came after Labor Day in early September, but cases decreased toward the end of the month. Since then, the university has seen a steady rise in cases.

The new dashboard also displays more details about UF affiliates currently quarantined. Out of the 499 people quarantined as of Tuesday night, 390 are students, 77 are UF employees and 32 are employees of UF affiliate organizations.

UF expanded its testing capabilities in September following the rise in cases after Labor Day. The university now offers near daily options for testing, which students can sign up for through a screening questionnaire on their ONE.UF pages.

Garcia said UF is still finalizing plans for testing procedures in the Spring after announcing its  plan to hold more on-campus classes next semester.

UF has also introduced saliva testing to most of its testing sites, including the Phillips Center parking lot, which previously administered drive-by nasal swab tests. 

Testing site employees now give instruction sheets detailing how to complete the saliva test. 

It instructs people not to eat, drink, smoke or use oral hygiene products for at least 10 minutes before their test, which would contaminate the sample.

The sheet also has a QR code that directs people to a UF Health saliva-test instruction video.

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Staff Writer

Thomas Weber is the health reporter for the Alligator. He is a junior journalism major at UF who has previously interned for the Gainesville Sun.