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Loyola Won’t Publicize Actual Number of COVID-19 Cases on Campus

Leslie Owen | The Phoenix

Loyola monitors all COVID-19 positive cases through an internal dashboard, including those confirmed by third-party testing sites, but won’t share the full picture with the public. 

Tests recorded outside of the university that come back positive aren’t counted towards the positive tests on the public COVID-19 Testing Dashboard and Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach wouldn’t provide the number of self-reported positive cases to The Phoenix.

Shymanski Zach said Loyola doesn’t make the number of self-reported positive cases public since the university doesn’t have the data of all tests Loyola students receive from third-party testing sites — making it impossible to come up with an accurate positivity rate.

“Presenting this information on the dashboard would skew our data sets,” Shymanski Zach said. 

First-year theater major Emma Smith said it seems like Loyola is trying to undermine the situation and keep a clean reputation with that protocol. 

“It makes me think Loyola cares more about their reputation and less about the care of their students through cautioning them with the truth,” Smith, 18, said.

Along with Smith, political science major Celine Azmen said she feels students, staff, and parents are getting a false sense of security by Loyola only counting the positive tests administered at Loyola. 

“I think it’s kind of dishonest to not count positive cases at Loyola just because they were administered outside of the university,” sophomore political science major Eric Gotsch said. 

Some students, including Azmen, said they had concerns about COVID-19 rates after ‘Halloweekend,’ the weekend of Oct. 30 to Oct. 31 when students celebrated the holiday with friends. 

“I think Halloweekend will lead to somewhat of a rise even though everyone is vaccinated, there is bound to be a breakthrough since most people were partying in big crowded houses or at crowded bars without masks,” Azmen said. 

Leslie Owen | The Phoenix

However, Loyola’s COVID-19 dashboard showed a 0.67% moving 7-day positivity rate Nov. 7. According to the dashboard, 1,653 COVID-19 tests were administered at Loyola between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5, with 10 positive results — a 0.25% increase from the previous week. 

“We have seen a slight increase in cases but no significant spike [due to Halloween],”  said Lanay Samuelson, an advanced practice registered nurse, at Loyola’s Wellness Center. “We are very fortunate to have such a highly vaccinated population. Vaccination has been helpful in keeping the rate of positive cases low.”

Leslie Owen | The Phoenix

Director of Loyola’s Wellness Center Joan Holden told The Phoenix after attending a large gathering, students, faculty, and staff are always encouraged to get tested for COVID-19, even if fully vaccinated.

On Nov. 7, the city of Chicago saw a 7-day average of 808 positive cases. The week before, the city saw a 7-day average of 715 positive cases. The Chicago COVID-19 dashboard can be found on the City of Chicago website.  

The largest spike the dashboard has shown this semester was back during the week of Sept. 12 where the 7-day moving positivity rate was 3.15%. 

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