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COVID in college: Does SEC university data make the grade?

WKYT Investigates looked at how UK’s coronavirus dashboard compares to other SEC schools.
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - University leaders across the country say health data is driving many decisions on campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. But when it comes to that data, different schools make different numbers available to the public - making it hard to compare even to schools in the same region.

InvestigateTV first reported that at the largest universities, coronavirus data varies widely and lacks transparency. A WKYT Investigates analysis found that lack of uniformity exists even among different Southeastern Conference schools.

[See how UK stacks up against other SEC schools in the interactive graphic below.]

The University of Kentucky’s COVID-19 dashboard shows more than 1,000 total positive cases. That puts UK sixth out of the 12 SEC schools that report total cases. Georgia has had the most total cases by far, with more than 3,000.

Online dashboards for Missouri and Tennessee do not report total cases, instead supplying only active cases. Yet half of SEC schools do not report active cases.

UK’s on-campus testing program is also more extensive than the other SEC schools reporting total test numbers. Kentucky’s nearly 30,000 total tests conducted is about 11,000 more tests than Vanderbilt reports and roughly double the total tests reported by Florida or Texas A&M (both of which are substantially larger in enrollment than UK).

As for UK’s data transparency, Dr. Howard Forman, with the Yale School of Public Health, gave the university a B- on RateCovidDashboard.com. That puts UK in the middle of the pack in the SEC.

On the plus side, experts say UK’s data is easy to read and includes positive cases, total tests and information about students in isolation. On the down side, it is not updated daily with the latest numbers; instead it reports numbers on a three-day delay.

Behind all the numbers are differences in procedures that make it even harder to determine and compare the situations on SEC college campuses.

[Keep scrolling for more COVID-19 comparisons and university raw data.]

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