Dear Carolina Community,
We have two updates to share with you today.
First, we are making an important change to how we are reporting information on the UNC-Chapel Hill COVID-19 Dashboard to more accurately align campus testing data with state and local health department recommendations and to make it easier for the public to look across different dashboards.
Starting with this week’s update, the Campus Testing section on the dashboard will reflect only results of tests performed at Campus Health and our campus testing partners with UNC Hospital Respiratory Diagnostic Center (RDC), who can report both positive and negative test results. The Campus Positive Cases section will continue to reflect all cases reported to Campus Health, regardless of testing location, since February 1 and will continue to be updated Monday – Friday.
When we launched the dashboard on July 31, the Campus Testing section was dedicated to providing detailed information on campus testing results for students and was intended to reflect the testing results completed at Campus Health, where most student testing was conducted at the time.
However, as our contact tracing and outreach to students expanded, more students were tested at the RDC and self-reported their positive test results from other sites outside of campus. Campus Health was also receiving positive results directly from the Orange County Health Department (OCHD). While this was good news and allowed us to better monitor the impact and spread of the virus, the percentage of tests with positive results that were reported on our dashboard, which were intended to be indicators of the persistence of the virus in our community, became inaccurate.
Previously, the Campus Testing section – consistent with the Campus Positive Cases section – reflected the total number of positive results through testing from three sources: 1) UNC Campus Health and UNC Hospital RDC, 2) positive results self-reported by students to Campus Health, and 3) positive results reported by the OCHD by anyone who identified as a UNC-Chapel Hill students. However, it only reflected the total negative results performed at Campus Health, causing the percentage of tests with positive results to be skewed.
Based on the guidance from North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the OCHD, beginning today the Campus Testing section will be updated to provide a more accurate statistical picture of a positive testing rate. The updates are the change to the sources of testing results to only Campus Health and the RDC and reflecting only results since July 1 for Campus Health and since mid-August for RDC results when it began reporting to Campus Health.
In addition, we are starting a Prospective Evaluation Testing program for all remaining students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area over the next two weeks. Beginning tomorrow, Campus Health will offer voluntary testing to on-campus residents without any COVID-19 symptoms every morning as a way to preemptively identify cases or clusters in the residence halls. Residents will receive more information in an email from Campus Health and Housing later today. We will also begin a voluntary testing program for off campus students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro area in the coming weeks and will provide more details for them soon.
Also, we are partnering with the OCHD to offer employee COVID-19 testing clinics every Wednesday at the R7 parking lot adjacent to Sheps Building located at 725 M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. These clinics are drive-thru and will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. starting on September 9. You can find more information on the OCHD website or UNC Environment Health and Safety website.
While the Prospective Evaluation Testing is voluntary, it is important that all students remaining in the area participate. We have a responsibility to each other and the local community to limit the spread of COVID-19 and detecting asymptomatic cases or symptomatic cases early is one of the best ways we can do that. We ask that you play your part in keeping those around you safe.
Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost