OU relies on Honor System, Healthy Together app for contact tracing | News
OU contact tracing is currently limited to the Healthy Together app and the “individual responsibility” of students and staff to report their COVID-19 exposures or positive test results, according to an email from the September 22 from a university spokesperson.
Last year, the OU’s COVID-19 dashboard reported the number of students in isolation or quarantine without specifying individuals in university isolation accommodation, according to the email. It has also partnered with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Goddard Health Center, in coordination with the Cleveland County Health Department, for contact tracing.
In the absence of these specifications on the dashboard, students, faculty and staff must now use the Healthy Together app – a COVID-19 screening and notification tool – to alert the university of a positive case of COVID-19, the spokesperson wrote. The app will note whether a person is allowed to come to campus based on the results of a provided questionnaire.
The university continues to track cases reported on the dashboard, whether reported through the Healthy Together app or by email, the spokesperson wrote.
Dr. Dale Bratzler said that while the OU Healthy Together app’s COVID-19 case tracking system is new, the “honors system” required to accurately track cases is on par with the last year.
“Students weren’t necessarily tested at Goddard (last year),” Bratzler said. “They were going to urgent care centers, and then they were going home and taking a test, they were going to Immy Labs, and there were a lot of places where students could take a test, and they were always on the honor system to let us know if that test came back positive.
During a September 13 OU Faculty Senate meeting, OU Senior Vice President and Provost André-Denis Wright said the university was “dependent” on students using the app. Healthy Together and “being honest” about potential COVID-19 infections to successfully implement the two-week mask mandate.
Wright also said at the meeting that the administration was “struggling” to convince students to use the app. He said if a student chooses not to use the app, they can email their teacher confirming a positive test result.
Bratzler said COVID-19 cases are often underreported due to asymptomatic cases or misidentified symptoms. The university’s dashboard includes weekly data from the state health department to provide more aggregate data alongside numbers collected from Goddard and the Healthy Together app.
“I think we followed very carefully. We don’t want anyone getting sick,” Bratzler said. “We know that some students have been infected, but the reality is that the rates have been much lower this year. We never hit the isolation numbers this year compared to last year, and I think a lot of that is because we have so many students who are already vaccinated. »
The university’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 17 positive cases out of 309 COVID-19 tests from Sept. 16-22. Bratzler said the rate of positive COVID-19 tests had fallen to 2.7%, which is “unbelievably low.”
“I always caution against complacency,” Bratzler said. “I don’t want to say we are navigating in any way, but the number of cases has dropped both on campus, in the city of Norman, in Cleveland County and in the state. The number of cases is decreasing everywhere, and this is very, very consistent with what other states have seen when hit by a strong delta (variant) surge. They increase very rapidly over a period of two months, and then the number of cases decreases. »
About 90% of Oklahoma’s variant cases can be attributed to the delta variant as of Sept. 19, according to the Oklahoma Health Department’s Weekly Epidemiological Report Sept. 12-18. The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma is 1,887, according to The New York Times. The rate has decreased by 22% in the past 14 days.
Bratzler said he always encourages masking and vaccinations to reduce the number of cases.
“My biggest encouragement is that I encourage people to wear masks whenever they’re indoors,” Bratzler said. “I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. We only have millions of (pieces) of data now that vaccines are incredibly safe, and we know they are very, very effective.