COVID-19 on campus: slight decline


Karla DeBruin

This graphic depicts the positivity rate on campus as well as other statistics regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.


After several weeks of rapidly increasing case counts and positivity rates, this week’s COVID-19 update from the UNI Student Health Center indicated a slight decrease in both areas.

According to data released Friday, Nov. 13 at noon, the 261 tests conducted from Nov. 9-15 through the Student Health Center resulted in 75 positive cases, for a 28.74% campus positivity rate.

The university also reported 43 self-reported cases of COVID-19 during the same period, calculating to 26 students and 17 university employees. 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.

The positivity rate, which may decrease slightly today when the Student Health Center updates last week’s data to include any tests conducted on Friday, already represent a decrease from the 96 new cases and 37.65% positivity rate reported by the Health Center last week. This marks the first week since the week of Oct. 5-11 in which case counts and positivity rate both declined.

As the number of new cases decreased, however, the number of students in quarantine and isolation with the UNI Department of Residence (DOR) continued to increase. This week, the DOR reported 56 students in quarantine, an increase of more than 20 students from the previous week and the highest number in quarantine since the first week of September.

Annie Karr, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communication Services for the DOR,  told the Northern Iowan in an email that the DOR is not nearing capacity for quarantine spaces, despite the increase.

“The numbers we are seeing in the Department of Residence reflect what is currently happening in the surrounding community,” she wrote. “The majority of student COVID cases at UNI are occurring off-campus, not on-campus.”

She noted that the DOR plans to continue its current practice over winter break for students who need to quarantine or isolate on campus.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the state, more than 20 K-12 public school districts, individual schools and private schools have received waivers to transition to fully online education since Nov. 1. The closest to UNI is Janesville, which received the waiver on Nov. 10, according to the Des Moines Register.

A scattering of colleges and universities statewide have also done the same, most recently Drake University, which moved classes to a virtual mode of instruction beginning Wednesday, Nov. 11. The university had already planned to use an online model following Thanksgiving break.

While UNI administration has not issued a similar university-wide decision, professors have been notified that they may move their classes to an online format if they choose to do so as the semester concludes.

With less than two weeks remaining, the university’s COVID-19 Response Team is urging students to stay vigilant.

“We are in uncharted waters. We need everyone to lead and work together to navigate the complexities of the Coronavirus and its current impact on our campus,” the response team wrote in a campus-wide update on Tuesday, Nov. 10. “We must remain committed to the following actions each day: Stay well. Stay healthy. Wear the mask. Wash your hands. Practice physical distancing. We are almost there.”