COVID-19 cases on campus decrease 70% since October 2020

By Ashley Gilbert, Contributing Writer

Last year, the rise in COVID-19 cases with the start of the school year was a prominent issue. This year, however, the COVID-19 case numbers are significantly down in comparison. 

According to data from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, the University has fewer cases now compared to the same time last year. 

With 594 cases so far this month compared to 1,984 cases in October 2020, COVID-19 cases are down 70%.

According to the SHIELD testing data, the record for highest number of daily new cases in a day is 230, which was on Aug. 31, 2020.

Once the 2020-2021 academic school year ended and students left campus, the positivity rate over the summer was consistently below .5% until mid-July.

Even given the higher transmission rate of the Delta variant, the University and Champaign-Urbana, as a whole, have managed to help mitigate the number of cases through its vaccine mandate. 

The University’s mandate on vaccinations has impacted these lower numbers over the last month, according to epidemiologist and member of the COVID-19 SHIELD team Rebecca Smith.

The University required all nonexempt University members to receive their first dose by Sept. 5. 

As of Oct. 14,  92% of the undergraduate population is vaccinated along with 95% of the graduate population and 85% of the staff. 

Getting vaccinated is only one aspect to maintaining a low COVID-19 positivity rate. The other precautions include limiting large gatherings, keeping events outside, getting tested when sick and wearing masks.     

“Vaccines have been helping, but we still need all of the other parts,” Smith said.

Despite progress in case numbers, Smith is concerned the end of midterms and the holiday season will negatively affect the lower trend in cases. 

She is hopeful that if students continue to fulfill their responsibilities when it comes to COVID-19 in the near future, the numbers will stay consistently low. 

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