In an email to students Sept. 4, the Office of the President at the University of Montana said it will release student and staff coronavirus data to the public on Sept. 9. The release will include active student cases as well as the number of people in isolation, and will be posted to the Missoula City-County Health Department’s health portal.
“We are working directly with MCCHD on how to parse University-specific or UM-affiliated cases and how they might, with the same privacy-law constraints, share that information,” President Seth Bodnar said in an email Sept. 1. “MCCHD has confirmed they are able to provide to us – and share publicly – weekly data,” he added in the Sept. 4 communication.
UM originally refused to release the case and testing information to the Kaimin, citing privacy concerns. The new plan will include the following data points and will reportedly be updated weekly.
Total historical cases associated with UM since Aug. 12.
Current active cases associated with UM.
The new number of cases each week.
The average number of close contacts per case.
The number of UM students, staff and faculty currently in isolation and quarantine.
The information will be available on the Missoula County Health Portal’s website. The change of policy comes as colleges around the country released their own coronavirus databases, and UM’s faculty senate urged the president’s office to supply the data in an Aug. 25 resolution.
The Kamin previously reached out to the Missoula health department and found it was able to release the number of tests the Curry Health center had administered since the start of the pandemic. It said Curry conducted less than 300 tests through Aug. 30, but then added the center did not give them complete data on their rapid tests.
“The numbers coming from Curry do not give a very accurate representation of activity on campus as many students/staff/faculty do not use Curry as their primary source of healthcare,” Health Promotion Officer Cindy Farr said. “We are working with UM and consulting with legal to determine if we can begin to report UM specific data.”
This story will be updated.