… Data obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive through a public records request show 91 out of the university’s 520 student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 between July 17, 2020, and March 2 of this year. According to the university’s latest enrollment numbers, 17.5% of student-athletes have tested positive, compared with 8% of students overall, though student-athletes are required to get tested frequently, while other students are not. …
This is the first time the university has reported this data, previously declining media requests while citing privacy laws such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
A New York Times investigation published Dec. 11 reported at least 6,629 coronavirus cases in athletic departments around the country. Nine Pac-12 schools provided complete data, and two — Colorado and Arizona State — contributed “limited” data. Oregon was the only school in the conference to provide no data. Oregon was among 19 schools of the 130 surveyed that did not provide the information.
A New York Times spokeswoman told The Oregonian/OregonLive via email that UO denied requests for data and that the newspaper subsequently filed an open records request. The university responded by saying it did not have records about cases in the athletic department, and that any records it did have would be exempt due to privacy. …
FERPA and HIPAA do prohibit schools from disclosing information that could potentially harm or identify individuals, but do not prevent the university from disclosing aggregate numbers to the public.
“I can say confidently that denying access to such data doesn’t serve public interest,” said attorney Gunita Singh, legal fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “FERPA and HIPAA should absolutely not be used to withhold de-identified, aggregate data about the toll of the virus, especially at a time like this when we are by no means out of the woods.”
Singh added: “I do think there is a degree of short-sightedness when these laws are overapplied, because it is to everybody’s detriment. The public and the news media have a right to see the data, understand the trends, understand the risks involved with physically heading back to school.”
Duck athletic secrecy aside, UO posts a daily count of student and employee cases here. For employees they even report what buildings they worked in – and from those locations most positive employee tests seem to be athletic department employees. Of course they are presumably tested more frequently than the average schlub.