By: Hayden Cordova | Managing Editor
Recent developments regarding the local response to the pandemic have emerged over the past week. Alongside Gov. Kay Ivey’s extension of the Alabama public mask ordinance to Oct. 2, as reported by Fox10 News on Aug. 27, South announced the university’s implementation of the Jag Healthcheck and COVID-19 Dashboard on Aug. 25.
GuideSafe Jag Healthcheck, according to USA COVID-19 Response Coordinator Julie Estis, is a “health screening tool that must be completed daily by all USA general division employees…and all USA students, except those who are fully remote.” With 35% of classes having transitioned to online classes, according to USA President Tony Waldrop, the Jag Healthcheck comes as a significant aid for the classes being held on campus.
The Healthcheck can be accessed by visiting the GuideSafe website, but the university also unveiled their application of the GuideSafe Exposure Notification App, which can access the Health Check as well. If enabled, the app can also provide notifications to the user of contact with those reporting symptoms through the Health Check via exchange of anonymous Bluetooth codes between phones.
Operating in tandem with these new tracking measures is the USA COVID-19 Dashboard, which offers a straightforward table of data showing the reported positive coronavirus cases on campus among students and employees. The dashboard is updated every Monday with new results from the previous week.
With the implementations of multiple new pandemic measures, the question remains as to what these newly implemented tools mean for the coming months. Is there progress being made in campus cases from applying more of these tools?
As reported by AL.com, the average number of new positive cases in Alabama was 1,652, but has since dwindled to 759 cases since the announcement of the first mask ordinance in July. Understandably, South has taken significant enrollment losses due to the pandemic’s impact, with a drop in enrollment by nearly 15 percent, according to Waldrop.
Despite this, as of right now the positive test rate out of 5,000 students tested is 0.52 percent, as reported on the COVID-19 Dashboard. The largely reduced frequency of new cases statewide, along with more carefully recorded case tracking on campus, can help to continue the downward trend of coronavirus’ spread.