Ken Goe of the Oregonian has a long report on UO’s continued failure to report aggregate data on the characteristics of students who have tested positive, here, and the various excuses they’ve used – which he’s checked up on. Some snippets:
The University of Oregon’s refusal to reveal the number of on-campus Ducks athletes testing positive for the novel coronavirus is raising questions about the school’s transparency and willingness to protect the university community.
While some Pac-12 rivals, including Oregon State and Washington, have divulged an aggregate number of positive tests for athletes, Oregon and others have not. Oregon reports only a total number of students overall who test positive.
As articulated by UO spokeswoman Kay Jarvis, the university’s shifting rationales for this have ranged from contending the release of an aggregate number of athletes to test positive would violate “state and federal privacy laws” to saying the decision was made in consultation with the “local public authority.”
The first contention, according to an attorney familiar with such privacy laws, is false. As for the second, a Lane County health official said it is up to the university to determine what to release.
“There is no trust. Zero,” said Stephanie Prentiss, who represents Oregon’s classified employees as president of the school’s chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
Prentiss said university employees have been given conflicting information from administrators about athletes who have tested positive for the coronavirus and are being quarantined on campus.
She said workers cleaning areas on campus where infected people are being isolated are inadequately trained and equipped to do that job in the midst of the pandemic. The lack of transparency and specificity, she said, has led to uneasiness and fear among university workers.
The school has designated Jarvis, Oregon’s director of public affairs and issues management, to answer questions about this policy and has declined to make others available, including UO’s general counsel.
When first asked why Oregon was refusing to release the number of positive tests among its athletes, Jarvis responded in a June 23 email by saying she could not release that information because of state and federal privacy laws.
Attorney Gunita Singh, legal fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called that rationale “absurd. It’s a classic over application of privacy laws.”
On July 10, Jarvis wrote the school is consulting closely with Lane County Health & Human Services to slow the spread of the virus and in contact tracing.
“Again, the university is not the one determining the health benefit of information released,” she wrote. “We work with the local public health authority to determine when and how that information should be released, such as if there is an outbreak or when they are unable to use contact tracing to limit the spread.”
Jason Davis of Lane County Health & Human Services confirmed the university has cooperated fully with the county.
But, he said, Lane County Health does not have a position about what UO should disclose to the greater community unless there would be an instance when “five or more athletes start to get sick, and they all seem to be getting sick from the same source or reservoir. That needs to be addressed in public.”
Otherwise, Davis said, it’s up to the school to decide what it chooses to tell the community. …
Meanwhile, 19 days and UO GC Kevin Reed’s office still can’t figure out what to tell Bloomberg News: