Dashboard data, prevalence and positivity rate

Have a question that isn’t answered below? Email together@vcu.edu or see a list of additional contacts who may be able to help. The dashboard reports data monitored and assessed by the VCU Public Health Response Team. We will continue to update these questions and answers as information changes.

Q: How does VCU track the positivity rate in its community?

A: In line with our Return to Campus plan, VCU and VDH members, who attend and are actively involved in Public Health Response Team meetings, are working together to monitor positive testing rates in our community as well as in the surrounding Richmond area. VCU's Public Health Response Team monitors the asymptomatic positivity rate as an indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community. Due to our differing populations, testing rates, and several other factors, public health professionals, including VDH, advise us that the CDC definition of “positivity rate” is not an appropriate comparison metric.

Q: Why can’t VCU compare its positivity rate with the Richmond area’s positivity rate?

A: VCU’s symptomatic and asymptomatic testing results are now posted on our dashboard. Percent of asymptomatic positive tests is monitored alongside the Richmond area's positivity rate as reported by the Virginia Department of Health. VDH does not track positivity rates by symptomatic and asymptomatic testing which makes direct comparisons difficult. VCU and VDH are working together to determine a comparable metric between the VCU and surrounding Richmond community that accounts for both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing as well as the differences in population size and other factors. Once this is established, we will update our Return to Campus Plan.

Q: What percent of students and employees are tested as part of VCU’s asymptomatic prevalence plan?

A: As outlined in our Return to Campus plan, asymptomatic prevalence testing targets, as set by our Public Health Response Team, are up to approximately 5 percent of residential students and up to approximately 2 percent of all other community members per month. Although the plan notes daily asymptomatic testing, we moved from daily testing to Monday through Thursday test appointments as we were able to accommodate the appointments in four days. Symptomatic testing continues to be conducted daily.

Q: Will VCU report numbers of tested and confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the VCU community?

A: VCU publishes a public dashboard Monday through Friday that includes metrics based on the data reported to VCU Student Health Services and Employee Health Services. VCU also reports all testing results to the Virginia Department of Health, which maintains publically accessible deidentified data.

Q: How can I get information that is more specific than what is reported on VCU’s dashboard?

A: It is important to note that VCU will not widely communicate details about individual cases to the community or to media outlets out of respect for the privacy of any COVID-19 patients. Several privacy laws apply to the communication of information about students, employees and patients that could result in the unintentional disclosure of individual health information and status. For this reason, VCU will provide data on the dashboard in an aggregated format and does not provide information on particular groups or specific locations so as to avoid the inadvertent identification of individuals' health information and status. Working with our partners in the Virginia Department of Health, our Student Health Services and Employee Health Services offices will work to notify individuals reported to them who may have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case so that they may monitor their own health symptoms and self-quarantine.

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