Demand Transparent COVID-19 Statistics and Policy from UPenn

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Information is key to fending off a COVID-19 outbreak. Students at the University of Pennsylvania are doing their part to slow the spread of coronavirus, but need more support from the administration to make better decisions. Two actions will greatly help coordinate the campus wide response to the pandemic: (1) decreasing the lag in reporting statistics on the COVID-19 dashboard and (2) clearly communicating goals of policy.

Decreasing the lag in reporting statistics on the COVID-19 dashboard will allow students to make smarter decisions. Right now, the dashboard has a lag of over a week. There is no reason to not cut the lag to from one week to two days - the time it takes for test results to come in - and update the dashboard daily. The current reporting of mass testing lets individuals quickly know their risk of having COVID, but not their risk of catching COVID. If positivity rates rise during the week, as is happening currently, there is no way for students to know and limit their interactions with others until it is too late.

Clear and consistent goalposts will also provide students incentive to limit back activity. A precise goal, such as positivity rate, for reopening campus will mean students know their restraint is not all for naught. A precise upper bound in positivity rate combined with daily updates will make it clear to students the extent to which they need to cut back interactions to avoid further campus restrictions. The current description of "an increase in the 7-day rolling average of positive cases" is useless without knowing a specific threshold and the daily case rates.

We compel the UPenn administration - President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé - to respond to these concerns by the end of February. Daily updating of COVID-19 statistics and clearly communicating Penn policy are two disease mitigating, common sense, zero-cost, and potentially life-saving measures that a world class university such as the University of Pennsylvania is more than capable of adopting.