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COVID-19 case dashboard frequently asked quesetions

What is the definition of a positive case?

A positive case is confirmed when a patient has a positive result from a PCR test. In addition, public health also accepts a positive antigen test if a patient was symptomatic with COVID-like symptoms (per COVID-19 case definition) at the time of testing. Testing is available and administered on campus, in the local community or in a student or employee’s hometown.

To be counted as a positive case on the dashboard, a student or employee with a positive result must also have had a campus impact/close contact on campus. Students or employees with a positive PCR or antigen result as defined above, but no campus impact/close campus contact, are not counted on the dashboard.

Some colleges and universities have chosen only to report the results of their own campus testing. In the interest of full transparency, our dashboard includes all cases with a campus impact, no matter where the testing was completed.

What is the definition of recovered cases?

Recovered cases include positive cases that had a campus impact/close contact on campus.

There are campus community members who enter isolation because they present with COVID-like symptoms, but leave isolation due to a negative COVID test. These individuals are not tracked on our dashboard in any way.

There are also individuals who enter isolation with COVID-like symptoms and test positive, but do not have any impact/close contacts on campus. These individuals are also not tracked.

For the recovered cases on our dashboard (have a positive COVID test and close contacts on campus), the definition of recovered is as follows:
  • Completion of 10 days of isolation
  • Fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.)
  • Documented symptom improvement

When is the dashboard updated?

The dashboard will be updated weekly during summer, with data continuing to be displayed as daily numbers, to reflect the number of confirmed-positive COVID-19 cases that have been reported by students, faculty and staff. These counts do not include confirmed positive cases of students, faculty and staff who have not been on campus during their period of communicability. Because the results involve a number of offices connecting (Health Services for student information, Human Resources for employee information and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness for dashboard oversight), there is not a set time in which this always occurs. 

How long is it taking for a positive test result to be a reported positive case on the dashboard?

A positive test result with campus impact is added to the database within one weekday of the college learning about it. We take data received by 4 p.m. for dashboard inclusion the following weekday.The dashboard will be updated weekly during summer, with data continuing to be displayed as daily numbers.

The time it takes for a test result to be received varies. It may take upwards of four days for a test result to arrive. Our dashboard does not reflect onset of symptoms or testing date, though both of those data points are important in case management and contact tracing. The dashboard reflects the date a confirmed positive test result is received.

Why can’t we count back 10 days to compare recorded positive cases to recovered cases?

We understand this question, because it feels logical to do so. There are multiple reasons why counting back 10 days is not effective:
  • Catch-up: When the dashboard was initially published, we were not showing “recovered” data. On 9/11/2020, the first date in which we showed that data subset, we included all of the recovered cases (by our definition explained above) from the time we began reporting our total number of positive cases (7/2/2020). Hence, there is a larger number of reported cases on 9/11/2020 due to the count back to the beginning of our tracking period.
  • Test result lag: There are delays across the board when reporting COVID data. It takes a few days for someone to become symptomatic. Then, once a test is administered, we may wait upwards of four days for a test result. Some students are finishing their 10-day quarantine period when the test result finally comes back positive, thus creating a close turnaround time of recorded positive cases and recorded recovered cases on our dashboard.
  • Longer isolation: Some students do not meet isolation release requirements within the 10-day isolation period. They may not have recovered by the 10th day, and therefore, remain in isolation longer. This creates a longer turnaround time of recorded positive cases and recorded recovered cases on our dashboard.

What number of positive cases would result in a campus closure?

The college’s COVID-19 Case Response Plan indicates that several factors taken together are considered in any decisions about altering campus life. These include such items as: capacity for quarantine and isolation, availability of testing on campus or in the local community, PPE for health services and campus safety, and the college’s ability to deliver essential services. In addition, we remain in active conversation with city, county, and state public health departments, and their input is seriously weighed in our decision-making. Bottom line, there is no specific number of positive cases that would automatically result in a shift to exclusively remote learning, or sending students home.

When are students released from isolation?

Students who test positive are released from isolation utilizing a symptom-based strategy, which is in accordance and guidance from the CDC and WI DHS. While this cannot be less than ten days from the onset of symptoms, it can be longer since two other criteria must also be met: absence of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine and documented resolution of symptoms.