Why is UMB not publishing a positivity rate?

November 24, 2020

Test positivity rates are a metric used to help public health officials determine if their state or county is testing enough of its population for the size of the COVID-19 pandemic. Positivity is a measure of testing capacity, and can be used to inform interpretation of case trends, but it is not a measure of how prevalent a disease is in a community.

UMB is currently using a multi-pronged approach to surveillance and testing on campus. The pillars of the strategy include: SAFE on Campus daily symptom monitoring, contact tracing to locate and quarantine any high risk exposures, and risk-based testing for students and employees. As UMB is a close partner with the University of Maryland Medical System, we have directed our students and employees to the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and UMaryland Immediate Care as well as other community testing sites for COVID-19 tests. Due to patient privacy laws, UMB does not have direct access to these test results. So the positivity rate would not have the same relevance in our context as it does for state and local health departments, and so UMB is not publishing it at this time.

For more information about the key metrics UMB is using to assess safety on-campus and guide our status of operations, please see "How to Assess UMB Campus Operations during COVID-19 Pandemic."