Looking back at a year of COVID-19 at UI


Brigida Dockus

COVID-19 Wellness Ambassadors walk along the Main Quad on Oct. 7. The Daily Illini reviews influential COVID-19 moments throughout the past year.

By Vivian La, Assistant Daytime News Editor

July 8: The first on-campus COVID-19 testing locations open. Testing consists of spitting into a tube. Sites become available for free to all University students, staff and faculty.
Aug. 3: The University announces via Massmail that mandatory twice weekly testing will be required for all faculty, staff or students who participate in any on-campus activities.
Aug. 17: Over 10,000 saliva tests of students, faculty and staff conducted in one day, comprising 1.3% of the total COVID-19 tests nationwide.
Aug. 18: The University announces via Massmail that they plan to use trained employees to monitor the entrances of buildings where in-person classes are held and an app, Safer Illinois, for students to manage test results and gain building access.
Aug. 20: The University-developed, saliva-based COVID-19 test receives Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
Aug. 24: First day of fall 2020 instruction and the University releases an online COVID-19 dashboard that reports data from on-campus saliva tests.
Aug. 31: The University reports 230 positive COVID-19 cases in a single day, the highest in the academic year. The University counts 280 individual University students, staff or faculty who tested positive for COVID-19 between Aug. 16 and 24.
Sept. 2: University officials attribute the increase in confirmed cases to illegal student behavior in a Zoom press conference. A two-week long limitation on non-essential activities is announced.
Sept. 9: University officials said there are 200 open investigations into student behavior for violating COVID-19 related policies.
Sept. 14: The UI senate executive committee confirms that eight students have been placed on interim suspension for violating COVID-19-related policies, most for social distancing and mask noncompliance.
Sept. 24: New COVID-19 cases fall to semester lows, with the positivity rate averaging under 0.4% for 11 days.
Sept. 27: Champaign County announces that over 500,000 tests have been conducted for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Sept. 29: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells Illinois Newsroom that the University never had Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 saliva test.
Sept. 30: Illinois public health officials announce that Champaign County COVID-19 data will be excluded from regional numbers, due to large volume of testing at the University.
Oct. 1: The University suspends study abroad programs through spring 2021.
Oct. 19: The University records less than 100 positive cases the week prior, the lowest in the fall semester. The UI senate also votes to cancel spring break in favor for three non-instructional days and delay the start of the semester.
Oct. 26: The University records 74 positive cases, the highest single-day total since Sept. 8, when the two-week lockdown was still enforced.
Oct. 27: The University announces via Massmail that more than 1000 students face discipline for COVID-19 related policies.
Nov. 16: The University projects to spend $270 million in the fiscal year 2021 for COVID-19 related costs and approve a $6.72 billion budget for fiscal year 2021. A surge in state, county and campus COVID-19 cases prompts increased restrictions as “second wave” hits.
Nov. 20: The UI senate approves a resolution to adopt a credit/no credit policy for fall 2020 grades in response to the academic difficulties due to pandemic.
Nov. 21: Fall break begins. Fall 2020 instruction and final exams will use online delivery methods after break.
Nov. 25: University students are unable to get a saliva test at the two other Illinois campuses.
Dec. 14: The University surpasses one million saliva tests conducted since the start of the testing program in July.
Dec. 18: The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrive in Champaign County, going to frontline medical workers.
Jan. 25: Spring semester instruction begins. The University reports 179 new cases of COVID-19 identified from Jan. 16-22 after nearly 58,000 tests. The thicker testing tube is replaced with a thinner one due to the University’s implementation of robotic technology to process saliva tests. Champaign County enters Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan.
Jan. 29: Select in-person University employees become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Graduate student Ivor Chen was dismissed for COVID-19 testing noncompliance, spurring campus support for Chen.
Feb. 8: The UI senate approves a resolution to adopt a pass COVID/no pass COVID grade mode for spring 2021 grades.
Feb. 11: Six on-campus cases of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, are confirmed by Professor Nigel Goldenfeld.
Feb. 17: Graduate student Ivor Chen reinstated and the University agrees to reduce his punishment.
March 1: The FDA approves the University’s COVID-19 saliva test for Emergency Use Authorization.
March 4: The University announces via Massmail that fall 2021 instruction will be mostly in person. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District opens vaccine appointments to residents with underlying health conditions.
March 5: Campus celebrates “Unofficial” with limited gatherings.
March 9: The University announces in-person, private stage crossings for 2020 and 2021 graduates.
March 10: The University announces that off-campus graduate students are no longer required to test regularly for COVID-19.
March 23: SHIELD CU launched, allowing family members of University students to access the school’s COVID-19 saliva testing.
April 5: The University announces that all students, staff and faculty are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
April 20: The University dismisses graduate student Antonio Ruiz for COVID-19 testing noncompliance.
April 29: The University announces via Massmail that fully vaccinated individuals will be able to waive saliva testing if they provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination for the fall 2021 semester.

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