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COVID-19 Dashboard FAQs

How often is the dashboard updated?

Daily on weekdays. To be as complete and transparent as possible, W&M is including data from several sources, including our campus testing program, the Student Health Center testing and self-reports, so it must be compiled and added to the dashboard manually while we build an enterprise reporting solution. 

How is William & Mary learning about positive cases?

W&M has quick access to the data of its testing partners through VCU Health System; that makes up the bulk of the dashboard data and is largely automated. William & Mary also receives results from students, faculty and staff members who self-report the results they received from third-party vendors. The community is required to use ReportCOVID.wm.edu to report positive results and close contact notifications, so all data is confirmed for accuracy and integrity before being published.

Do the positive numbers include every student, faculty or staff member? What about students who are working remotely from other states or countries? 

The W&M community is fluid, and students, faculty and staff members who live near campus but who are studying or working remotely find themselves needing to come to campus for services, like visiting W&M Libraries or picking up supplies. To capture these community members who we reasonably expect would visit campus, the testing program includes those living within 30 miles of the university. W&M would rather err on being too inclusive rather than too exclusive in testing and in recognition of our dynamic community.

Why are "pre-arrival positives" increasing this late in the semester?

A number of students, for various reasons, delayed returning to campus. As they return, W&M continues to require a negative COVID-19 test. W&M began compiling data and reporting in August; the dashboard does not reflect positive cases before then.

Why doesn’t William & Mary report numbers of positive cases below 10?

William & Mary has applied the same standard used by Institutional Research to protect the medical privacy of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Below a certain threshold, it could be possible to extrapolate the identity of those who have tested positive. Since 10 was already a longstanding threshold used at W&M, we applied it here as well. When the numbers meet or exceed 10 individuals, the dashboard reflects that.

Why does the sum of the total tests (if one adds together the number of tests in the table for each week) not equal the total students plus employees tested, shown at the top of the dashboard?

The weekly total of “Test Administered by Week” represents individual tests administered, while the total number of students or employees tested (at the top), represent unique people. 

Many students, faculty or staff members have taken more than one COVID-19 test through W&M’s testing program, including prevalence and free at-will testing. Someone who took a second test would affect the weekly number of tests given, but not affect the number of people tested.

Sometimes the “total number tested” increases by only a small number. Meanwhile, the “number tested weekly” will go up by 1,000 or more. Shouldn’t they align? 

Again, the "Total Tests Administered" and "Test Administered by Week" fields count the number of tests given, while the "Total Tested by Population" table, and number of students and employees tested count individuals tested by William & Mary. So if a single employee was tested twice, the dashboard will show that William & Mary administered two tests but that one single employee was tested.

Is the test count increasing as tests are performed?

The dashboard updates based on when test analysis is completed and results returned. The typical turnaround in processing time is approximately 72 hours from the time tests are performed. Rarely, specimens are rejected at the lab because of shipping damages or inadequate collection. Rejected tests are not reported as completed, and therefore not on the dashboard.

Why doesn’t W&M post the positivity rate?

To calculate positivity rate, look at the number of positives relative to the number of tests administered. Since William & Mary can only report on the number of tests administered by the university, yet would like to share self-reported positives for awareness, the positivity rate would be inaccurate.

Are William & Mary’s contract employees (i.e. Sodexo employees) counted as employees in the dashboard?

Yes.