UNI releases latest COVID-19 numbers



Students study in Maucker Union while wearing masks. The UNI Student Health Center has released its second week of COVID-19 data, indicating a slight decline in the campus positivity rate and number of positive tests.


The UNI Student Health Center reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 among the campus community over the past week, bringing the campus’ cumulative total to 105 since the semester began.

According to the university’s second week of COVID-19 data reporting, released on Friday, Sept. 4, the Student Health Center conducted a total of 152 COVID-19 tests from Aug. 31-Sept. 6. This calculates to a 23.03% positivity rate for on-campus testing.

As compared with the previous week, both the number of positive cases and the positivity rate declined. During the period from Aug. 24-30, the Student Health Center had reported 54 positive cases with a 32.14% positivity rate.

Numbers from the Northern Iowan’s last COVID-19 update may not align with these results, however, since the Friday updates only include data as collected through Thursday of that week. Friday numbers are added to the weekly total by noon on the following Monday and are therefore not included in the NI’s weekly analysis.

The dashboard also provides data on Department of Residence quarantine and isolation numbers. As of Sept. 3, there are currently 91 individuals in quarantine and 32 in isolation.

Added to the dashboard this week was a table listing the number of self-reported cases of COVID-19 as reported through the daily Panther Health Survey.

This week’s table indicated that since Sept. 1, 21 positive cases have been self-reported by students, staff and faculty. However, these self-reported cases may also be counted in the Student Health Center weekly totals, and therefore, the numbers cannot be combined for a grand total.

Other than any that are self-reported, the university’s weekly updates do not include test results from students, staff or faculty who are tested at off-campus locations.

“It would be nice if the statistics they handed out reflected tests done at the Test Iowa center (off-campus),” said third-year music major Kameron Reed. “It’s not 100% representative.”

In a campus-wide email  announcing the second week of data, the university’s COVID-19 Response Team Co-Chairs Colleen Mulholland and Joseph Rayzor indicated that further adjustments to the data reporting are possible as the semester continues.

“We greatly appreciate your feedback, and will continue exploring ways to appropriately segment data and to include additional data to the dashboard while also protecting the privacy of our community members,” the email stated.

When asked for their reaction to the week’s numbers, UNI students such as freshman Megan Witte took a fairly positive view.

“I know some people that have been quarantined, and so far (the UNI administration) has done a good job trying to keep it organized and keep us all healthy,” said Witte, an undecided major. “It’s not ideal, but they’re doing what they can.”

Her fellow freshman, biochemistry major Jenna Heinen, agreed.

“We obviously can always do better, but in comparison to the other two state schools, we’re doing better than they are,” Heinen said.

At Iowa State University, where information is being released weekly, the latest update indicates that a total of 655 students and ten faculty/staff members have tested positive since Aug. 1. These numbers do not include results from move-in testing, which ISU was the only Iowa state school to employ.

The University of Iowa, which updates the number of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, reported another 253 positive tests among students on Friday, bringing the school’s total to 1,395. Three new employee cases were reported for a total of 19.

Both ISU and the University of Iowa are among the colleges in the nation with the most COVID-19 cases on campus according to the New York Times. Students, faculty and staff at the University of Iowa have called for classes to be moved fully online in light of the rising cases.

UNI students had mixed feelings regarding the likelihood of an eventual shift to online-only instruction.

“I don’t want to, but I feel like it’s inevitable,” Heinen said.

“I prefer going to class in-person, but it might reach a point where we have to go all online,” Witte agreed. “I know some teachers have been preparing to go online.”

Reed said she thought UNI would “try to make in-person classes work” for as long as possible.

“I would not be surprised if for the rest of the semester, we are still at least partially in-person,” she said.

University administrators have indicated a similar commitment to in-person education, as stated by Provost Jim Wohlpart in a message to the campus community on Friday.

“I understand that a rumor is circulating that the university will be moving fully online after the withdrawal deadline passes,” he wrote. “Please be assured that we would not have done all this work, and invested so heavily in your learning experience, if we intended to shift online. Our goal is to finish the semester with as many face-to-face classes as possible while elevating our efforts to maintain the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students.”

The university will continue to release updated COVID-19 data each week at forwardtogether.uni.edu.