College COVID-19 numbers will be shared by state health department starting this month

But no campus will be forced to report numbers, official says

LSU
LSU Clock Tower (Photo by Julie O'Donoghue)

The Louisiana Department of Health, which had previously announced that it would create a COVID-19 portal and send out a link to every private and public college and university in the state, will begin reporting numbers on those campuses beginning Sept. 16, Meg Casper Sunstrom, deputy commissioner for strategic communication of the Louisiana Board of Regents, said Wednesday.

The COVID-19 numbers that those campuses report will then be posted on the health department’s website.

“What we wanted to make sure that we did as higher education was report data that’s meaningful and will help us to make decisions,” Sunstrom said.

Colleges and universities will receive access to the portal Sept. 9 and will be required to send in their positive case data by Friday, Sept. 11 to be published on LDH’s website on Sept. 16. However, the reporting of cases is not mandatory for any systems.

“Higher education has willingly come to the table with LDH because we all value transparency and the health of our campus communities,” Sunstrom said.

Louisiana State University will also have its own dashboard that will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, interim LSU President Tom Galligan said in a virtual press conference Wednesday afternoon. The university last reported 137 positive cases Sept. 1 on the school’s reporting dashboard. LSU has conducted 1,376 tests on-campus and there have been 3,544 tests in total, including self-reported tests conducted outside the university.

When asked by a reporter if LSU’s dashboard will eventually include the number of students, faculty or community members who have been placed into quarantine, Galligan said, “We decided let’s get out the most basic information first, and then as we manage our data and learn more about data, we’ll see what else we can report. But we have not yet.”