University reaches 2,000 COVID-19 cases: 59 of them faculty, staff

A+graph+depicts+amounts+of+positive+COVID-19+tests+over+time+at+the+University+of+Illinois.+Over+10%2C000+tests+were+conducted+on+Monday.

Photo Courtesy of Shield Illinois

A graph depicts amounts of positive COVID-19 tests over time at the University of Illinois. Over 10,000 tests were conducted on Monday.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

The University of Illinois’ surpassed two COVID-19 milestones this week: over 2,000 cases identified from 300,000 saliva tests since the program’s introduction in July. 

Over two-thirds of all tests have been conducted since classes began on Aug. 24, while 1,649 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on campus during those same weeks. 

Entry tests in the nine days before classes revealed 288 imported cases of COVID-19 on campus, on par with the University’s projections. 

However, community spread took hold, and 501 new cases were identified from 77,000 tests during the first week of class. 

Then, after two weekends of social gatherings, COVID-19 cases spiked, with 815 new cases in a week after 73,000 tests, including 549 new cases from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.  

The jolt in cases led University administrators to limit undergraduate students to essential activities for a two-week period, which ended Wednesday. 

The restrictions appear to have stemmed the spread significantly. The week ended Sept. 13 yielded 293 new cases from over 56,000 tests. From Sept. 10-14, the single-day new case positivity rate stayed below half of a percent. 

Essentially, for four days, fewer than one in 200 tests turned up a new case of COVID-19, a streak that hadn’t been matched since move-in week. 

The University has not revealed how many individuals are being tested each week. However, more than 40,000 people have downloaded the Safer Illinois tracking app. 

Additionally, as of Monday, 59 University faculty and staff had tested positive for COVID-19 on campus since July; under 3% of all confirmed cases, said associate professor Rebecca Lee Smith at the Senate Executive Committee meeting. 

More than 95% of all confirmed cases are from undergraduate students, and around 80% of those students are asymptomatic, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District administrator Awais Vaid said.   

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