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MSU updates COVID dashboard to include Ingham County case numbers, has given 2,700 exemptions

Together We Will
Posted at 7:04 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 19:04:20-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University updated its COVID-19 dashboard to include case numbers from the Ingham County Health Department and the MSU Physicians Office.

The dashboard used to get all of its positive COVID case numbers from self reports, the early detection program and on-campus testing.

The week before these changes took place, there were 128 cases reported. The dashboard has not yet been updated to include the data from this week.

Kate Birdsall, president of the MSU Union of Non-Tenure Track Faculty, called it a step in the right direction but still wants to see more information on the dashboard.

“When we see the Ingham County cases increasing so dramatically and then we look at MSU’s number, it’s very difficult for me to understand a couple of things," Birdsall said. "One is when we look at the weekly tests and we see that over 4,500 tests were administered last week and this week we’re at 1,497. Why are we dropping off in testing as opposed to increasing testing?”

The vaccination rate reported on the dashboard has dropped from 91 percent to 87 percent as the university sorts through exemption requests. It reports 6.4 percent of the campus community as unvaccinated and 6.3 as having received at least one dose.

MSU Spokesman Dan Olsen said, as of Sept. 21, a little over 2,700 of the 4,264 exemption requests have been approved. 209 have been denied and 91 are pending an appeal. 1,242 are still in the review process.

Olsen also said the self-reported vaccine rate was adjusted to exclude groups not required to complete the vaccine verification form including retirees, no-pay faculty and those who no longer work for the university.

Birdsall said, even though she believes these updates were a step in the right direction, she's still concerned about the safety of those on campus.

“Really, the demographic that we're the most concerned about is students," Birdsall said. "Not just because we do not want to be infected by students, but because we’re concerned about our students' health and safety.”

She also wants to see the university allow faculty to decide if they feel safe enough to teach in person.

“We are not pushing for a blanket let’s all go online," Birdsall said. "We really want it to be up to the individual faculty member and their department administrators to make the right decisions for their course learning outcomes and their own personal situations.”

The university has 75 percent of classes in person this semester and 50,000 students back on campus.

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