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University of South Dakota debuts COVID-19 Dashboard for students, staff

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KTIV) -- Students across Siouxland are back in school.
But, a big concern for those on campus is the spread of COVID-19 among those back in-person.

The University of South Dakota in Vermillion is taking additional steps by sharing self-reported, real-time data about the total number of positive COVID-19 cases for students, faculty, and staff.

Monday, the university launched the COVID-19 Dashboard showing the known number of COVID-19 cases for students, faculty, and staff.

The dashboard breaks down the number of active cases for employees, students, and those currently in quarantine, including those isolated at home.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, on the COVID-19 Dashboard, there are 129 active cases among students and faculty. Additionally, 406 people are currently quarantined or in isolation.

Kevin O'Kelley is the chair of USD's Covid-19 Task Force. He said they wanted to create this dashboard because they knew USD would not be immune to the Coronavirus.

The process is relatively simple. Students and staff self-report to the Case Management team when they are getting tested for COVID-19 at student health. Those results are then posted to the website daily.

"In order to know how to behave and how to make decisions you need to have good data," said O'Kelley. "So if we have a number of cases on campus that is increasing or is larger, we might need to take special precautions or double down with the precautions already taking. Knowing the status, the health of our community is important in the decision-making process."

O'Kelley said the data is important because that allows them to track the spread, to know if they are flattening the curve. But, he said, that data isn't' just numbers, it's people.

"These are students for the most part," said O'Kelley. "They are sick students or the students that might be sick, they're often away from home and these are real people that we care about and in order for us to protect the next group of people who aren't yet symptomatic or in quarantine, we need to exercise all of the precautions that we've been talking about."

O'Kelley said those procedures includes, hand-washing, wearing masks and physical distancing.

O'Kelley said they've been seeing a rise in the reported numbers over the last few days, but they expected that. He said people should self-report as early as possible so they can be quarantined right away and hopefully preventing them from passing it on.

Michaela Feldmann

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