After last week’s significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and positivity rate on the UNI campus, testing through the UNI Student Health Center this week yielded the university’s lowest positivity rate of the semester.
According to data released Friday, March 19 at noon, the 52 tests conducted from March 15-21 through the Student Health Center resulted in less than six positive cases, for an 3.85% campus positivity rate.
This is already a substantial decrease from last week’s positivity rate of 14.13%, and the positivity rate may decrease slightly today when the Student Health Center updates last week’s data to include any tests conducted on Friday. Since the end-of-week updates only include data collected through Thursday, 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.
Additionally, for the first time this semester, the university did not report any self-reported cases of COVID-19 from March 15-21 from staff or students.
In other pandemic-related news, the more infectious B.1.1.7 variant (commonly known as the British or U.K. variant) was detected in Black Hawk County for the first time on Thursday, March 18.
The UNI COVID-19 Response Team wrote in an email to campus that the arrival of the variant was “not unexpected” but is still cause for concern.
“Public health officials are warning that we will be in a close race against these variants in the coming weeks,” they wrote. “While cases were dropping everywhere in the country a month ago, as variants spread 15 states are now seeing more cases then (sic) they were two weeks ago and 18 others – including Iowa – have seen their declines level off.”
On the vaccine front, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds promised on Wednesday, March 17 that starting April 5, all Iowa adults will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This timeline, however, is dependent on vaccine supplies, which the UNI COVID-19 Response Team emphasized “will remain limited but are projected to increase significantly in coming weeks. Public health officials have urged us all to remain patient.”
Reynolds’ announcement came after President Biden called on March 11 for states to expand eligibility for vaccines to all adults by May 1. The federal government has also pledged to have enough doses for every American adult by the end of May.