Discrepancies in COVID-19 dashboards

Rachel Greene, Editor-in-chief

As Western Illinois University reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a COVID Dashboard was created to report cases among students on campus. While the data collected is technically correct, some technical flaws cause it to misrepresent the state of the pandemic on campus.

Joseph Roselieb, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management for the University said, “If a student is tested at MDH and is positive, the results are reported to the McDonough County Health Department and with the Beu Health Center. The positive result is then counted as part of the County’s dashboard, which has WIU broken out independently from the municipality of Macomb and other surrounding communities within the county. The positive case is not incorporated as part of the WIU specific dashboard, because MDH does not also provide us with the negative tests that they perform involving WIU community members. Once we receive the positive case information at Beu Health Center, we then make contact and begin to work with them on relocating and beginning our isolation process.”

Because there are various options for COVID testing and not every student is testing through the University, there are discrepancies between the Western Illinois University COVID Dashboard and the McDonough County COVID Dashboard. The campus dashboard provides a more focused view of student test results, whereas the McDonough County one focuses on all citizens. There is not a dashboard that perfectly encapsulates the number of students who have tested for COVID-19 both on and off-campus. The Western Courier has reported numbers based on the Western Illinois University Dashboard but will be reporting using combined data from both dashboards from this point forward.

When asked how he would describe the state of our campus at the moment in relation to COVID-19, Roselieb said, “For the most part I have been pleased with our campus response in relation to many things that we have put into place this semester and the cooperation from our students, staff and faculty members. The pandemic is totally uncharted waters for everyone, so while there have been some things we have had to go back and adjust, I believe our plan has been successful. As we enter week nine of the semester, I do feel that campus is entering a state of ‘COVID fatigue,’ where everything is becoming quite passive and we are starting to get lax in what we are doing. Our goal to get through the semester is nearly within sight, so I would encourage everyone in the campus community to remember to do their self-checks each day, wear their face coverings both inside and out, and most importantly we need them to participate in testing.  If everyone does these things, we will be successful.”

To see the Western Illinois University COVID Dashboard, go to http://www.wiu.edu/covid-dashboard/.

To see the McDonough County Dashboard, go to http://www.mchdept.com/index.php/covid-19-2/.