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How COVID-19 Cases Are Reported At UNR

A person in a mask sits against a tree and is looking at a laptop. The UNR “N” logo is out of focus in the background.
Isaac Hoops
Nevada Sagebrush
University of Nevada, Reno, on Friday, Aug. 21.

The University of Nevada, Reno has reported 330 cases of COVID-19 in September, as of its most recent online update posted on Sept. 30. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck has the details on how the school's COVID-19 data is reported.

A listener recently reached out to KUNR, asking about our reporting on COVID-19 cases at UNR. She noticed that in a story we published a few weeks ago, the number of cases was lower than what the UNR website now displays for the time period of Aug. 24 to Sept. 9, which was the start of the fall semester.

Dr. Cheryl Hug-English, the director of UNR’s Student Health Center, explains why there’s a discrepancy.

“What happens is that there are now multiple testing locations in our community. For example, if a student, or faculty or staff goes to Walgreens, which is doing a lot of testing right now, it takes time for that test result to go to the Washoe County Health District, and then get reported back to us. As soon as we get that data about that positive [case], we update it on our website, but that's why you might see a little bit of a delay or increase in numbers,” Hug-English said.

On average, about 50 to 60 people are tested at the student health center per day and she said a majority of cases are stemming from off-campus activities.

“Like the rest of our Washoe County community, most cases are originating from gatherings, whether it’s family gatherings, social gatherings, that kind of thing,” Hug-English said.

COVID-19 testing is available at the student health center Monday through Friday by appointment.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Editor's Note from Oct. 2, 2020: An earlier version of this story that aired on KUNR stated that UNR updates its COVID-19 website every evening. That statement was based on information provided by UNR. Since UNR's COVID-19 website was not updated on the evening of Oct. 1, we have removed that sentence.

Editor's Note from Oct. 9, 2020: Since this story was published, the University of Nevada, Reno has revamped its website that displays COVID-19 cases at the university. The website now shows how many students tested positive in the previous week and cumulatively since March 2020, instead of providing a list of how many cases were reported each day. Dr. Cheryl Hug-English said the data still may change as cases are reported from off-campus testing sites.

As a note of disclosure, the license to KUNR is held by the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education. 

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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