Updated: Over 800 UI students quarantining on and off campus

The+entrance+to+the+North+East+section+of+Weston+Hall+remains+locked+on+Aug.+26.+Some+of+the+students+in+quarantine+are+currently+residing+in+the+first+floor+of+this+section+of+Weston+Hall.

Ryan Ash

The entrance to the North East section of Weston Hall remains locked on Aug. 26. Some of the students in quarantine are currently residing in the first floor of this section of Weston Hall.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

Updated Sept. 3, 5:30 p.m. 

About 800 students are quarantining after potential exposure to COVID-19, University officials confirmed Wednesday.

This is a marked increase since Monday, when 529 students were quarantining or isolating after exposure or infection to COVID-19.

The University reported over 500 new cases of COVID-19 from its saliva tests in just span three days. There were 104 new cases Sunday, 230 on Monday and another 199 new cases from tests conducted on Tuesday.

Awais Vaid of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said around 95% of on-campus cases, maybe more, are from students.

On Monday, there were 259 UI students isolating on and off campus after testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, another 270 students were quarantining after potential exposure to a COVID-positive person. 

Of the students who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, 80 were isolating in University Housing beds and 179 were isolating in off-campus properties like apartments, houses or private certified housing. 

Of the students who are quarantining, 47 were staying in residence hall beds and 223 on off-campus properties. 

University officials mentioned these figures at the Senate Executive Committee meeting on Monday. 

So far, two students staying in the dorms have completed their isolation, and 26 have completed their quarantine. Students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days before getting tested again, said Awais Vaid, deputy administrator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. 

The University has 448 total beds — 179 for isolation and 275 for quarantine — reserved for students with Housing contracts who test positive for COVID-19 or come into close contact with a COVID-positive person.  

Scott, Snyder, Hopkins, Weston and Bousfield in Champaign, and Babcock, Blaisdell, Carr, Saunders, Oglesby and Trelease halls in Urbana are the primary locations for these rooms. 

Barton, Lundgren, Leonard and Shelden halls are “secondary locations” for quarantine and isolation, University Housing spokesperson Chelsea Hamilton said. 

All rooms dedicated to quarantine and isolation are on “self-contained floors, wings and suites” within the dorms, she said, and isolating students are held in separate zones from the quarantining students.  

At Monday’s meeting, Provost Andreas Cangellaris emphasized that human behavior was the most important element of success. He said the “majority” of students are obeying COVID-19 precautions with twice-a-week testing, mask-wearing and social distancing. 

“I will say, there is a minority that is not,” Cangellaris added. 

Some students who’ve been isolated for a positive test are “going multiple times and getting tested in the hope that they will test negative,” Vaid said. 

Professor Nigel Goldenfeld, one of the lead modelers for the University’s SHIELD COVID response team, told the News-Gazette that 318 additional cases after move-in week “is higher than we would like.” 

“It is like the expression you’re building the plane while you are flying it,” Cangellaris said during Monday’s meeting. “I will tell you, it’s not only like building the plane while you are flying it, you are building the plane while the plane is accelerating.” 

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect current numbers provided by the University.