OU Professors Question University COVID-19 Numbers

Thursday, September 17th 2020, 6:54 pm
By: Storme Jones

NORMAN, Okla. -

Professors at the University of Oklahoma are raising questions about the school’s COVID-19 reporting dashboard.

The university launched the dashboard August 28 to “provide regular updates related to the public health situation on campus and within the surrounding community,” according to a press release.

Two professors at OU’s Gaylord College said the information is lacking and the numbers aren’t adding up.

“It’s just a clunky reporting system because the university can only collect so much information,” Professor Mike Boettcher said. “The dashboard only tells part of the story.”

He said that is because campus data is primarily derived from students living on campus, which only accounts for a fraction of students attending classes every day.

“OU is showing this morning 82 positive cases on their dashboard, but that’s just complete fiction because it doesn’t include any of the students that are off campus and any of the students that were tested at other facilities even here in Norman,” Professor John Schmeltzer said.

According to OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler, students are required to submit a form to the university after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result.

“Is it possible that we miss some people that may have tested positive?” Bratzler said. “It’s possible that we might because if they don’t let Goddard (Health Center) know then we wouldn’t know about it.”

Boettcher and Schmeltzer said there also isn’t clear guidance on how to adapt classrooms and lesson plans following a positive test from a student who had recently attended class.

“We don’t change a lot of things in the classroom because half the people who get this infection never have a symptom,” Bratlzer said. “My message has been very consistent; assume anybody you contact with could be infected.”

Boettcher, a journalism professor and veteran war correspondent, said accurate information in times of crisis is imperative.

“I’ve covered wars all my life and American soldiers and Marines are successful on the battlefield if they have accurate intelligence and that’s what we need here,” he said.