UNC officials pay lip service to health department concerns

Plunging ahead with in-person instruction during a pandemic:

In the memo, Stewart expressed concern over signs returning students have already contributed to spikes and clusters of infections. She recommended an all-online fall semester or, at a minimum, holding the first five weeks of the semester online-only. She also recommended the school restrict on-campus housing to those who would otherwise have nowhere to live, in order to slow community spread of the disease.

The chancellor described the Orange County Health Department’s recommendations as “another piece of information we have received.” But after consulting with UNC health experts and the UNC System — which will make the final decision on closures — the university decided not to follow the health department recommendations.

When (not if) the outbreaks occur, faculty and students will have to scramble (again) to adapt to online instruction, and the UNC Hospital itself will likely be buried in older Orange County residents unnecessarily infected. And if it is, they need to treat those people for free. I know it's a teaching hospital that also relies (at least partly) on tuition monies, but health issues should be paramount. And these comments will not age well:

“We believe, based on the advice of our public health and infectious disease experts who weighed in on this last week, that we still have a roadmap that can bring people back safely in this environment who have chosen to do so,” Guskiewicz said.

Guskiewicz said he spoke to UNC System President Peter Hans and former Interim UNC President Bill Roper last week to discuss the health department recommendations.

“We were advised to stay the course,” Guskiewicz said.

Orange County Health Department officials disagree with the decision, he said, and have made that clear.

“They still had concerns, no question,” Guskeiwicz said, “But who doesn’t have concerns?”

Apparently you don't, Kevin. Between the sororities, fraternities, dorm rooms, classrooms, colleges are the perfect breeding ground for viruses like this. Don't take my word for it; learn from your colleagues in other universities:

At the University of Texas at Austin, where more than 440 students and employees have tested positive since the spring, in-person classes will be capped at 40 percent of capacity and final exams will be taken online.

The University of Georgia has announced plans for in-person classes despite rising deaths from the virus in the state. The university has recorded at least 390 infections involving students, faculty and staff.

Case numbers may be larger at some universities with tens of thousands of students, including Central Florida and the University of Texas at Austin, and at others where many university employees work in hospitals where coronavirus patients have been treated, including at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Though hundreds of universities responded to The Times’s request for data — including a mix of public and private colleges, both small and large, in states across the country — others declined to cooperate. Some said they were not tracking such cases. Others invoked privacy concerns, even though The Times asked for aggregate case totals, not a list of individuals who were infected. Others did not respond at all.

Which raises another big question: When these outbreaks occur at UNC-Chapel Hill (and others), will those numbers be reported to the general public? To all parents, not just parents of infected students? Anyone? Bueller?

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UNC sorority sisters pictured above

It's kind of hard to see (still from a phone video), but not a single one of them had a mask on. The Daily Tarheel has an in-depth look at them and other Greeks.

I guess this answers my question

about COVID numbers being released:

The memo, obtained by Policy Watch this week, describes a dashboard that would be updated daily for “internal, informational purposes only” and not available to the public. It would be password protected and chancellors would have to request access even for their leadership teams, according to the memo.

The memo, dated August 5, is accompanied by a series of charts marked “confidential draft: not for distribution” which detail which metrics may be tracked.

The memo uses the words “for internal, informational purposes only” in describing the dashboard and says that it will be password protected, for use by chancellors and their leadership teams if they should be given permission.

“Our campuses have, or can choose to have, public facing dashboards with information that is most relevant to monitoring and assessing conditions at each of our institutions,” Ellis wrote.

In other words, no, you won't be releasing daily (or weekly, fer fuck's sake) numbers on students/faculty being infected.