CORONAVIRUS

Iowa State reports another 130 positive COVID-19 cases

Hundreds in isolation or quarantine

A student is let into the Lied Recreation Center for COVID-19 testing before moving into a campus housing location at Io
A student is let into the Lied Recreation Center for COVID-19 testing before moving into a campus housing location at Iowa State University in Ames on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

In the first week of classes at Iowa State University, 130 students, faculty, and staff tested positive for COVID-19 — about 13.6 percent of the 957 who were tested.

That adds to the 175 positive tests Iowa State reported from required testing during its residence hall move-in process — plus other positive results it received through athletic department testing.

Its efforts to quell campus coronavirus spread have 204 positive students, faculty, and staff still within a 10-day isolation period, including 19 who are isolating in on-campus housing.

Per contact tracing efforts, 385 ISU students, faculty, and staff are in a 14-day quarantine period due to close contact with a known positive case. Of that total 31 are using on-campus housing reserved for quarantined individuals.

Iowa State, which started the fall semester early on Aug. 17, has conducted a total of 10,683 tests between July 1 and Aug. 23, with a positivity rate of 3.4 percent. Since Aug. 1, Iowa State’s Thielen Student Health Center has tested 1,849 people and reported a positivity rate of 8.8 percent, according to Iowa State officials.

Although ISU isn’t releasing exact numbers of positive cases, that 3.4 percent since July 1 amounts to about 363 positive cases; 8.8 percent since Aug. 1 amounts to about 163 positive cases.

ISU — like the University of Iowa — is issuing weekly updates on COVID-19 test results.

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“We are monitoring the data closely to quickly identify and address trends,” Kristen Obbink, ISU’s COVID-19 public health coordinator, said in a statement. “The university is taking a targeted approach with testing, which allows us to take the appropriate steps to reduce the spread of infection.”

Iowa State’s “public health team” is providing “case investigation and contact tracing.”

“We also have adequate isolation and quarantine housing available,” Obbink said.

The University of Iowa on Monday — its first day of the fall semester — reported 107 students and four employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 18. Those numbers only reflect individuals who have self-reported results to campus, as officials say they can’t require members of their campus community to divulge personal health information.

Most of the UI cases involve students living off campus — with eight residence hall students testing positive. Another 19 residence hall students are in quarantine — meaning they’ve had close contact with a positive case.

Some residence hall students are isolating or quarantining at home — although UI didn’t provide specific numbers.

University of Northern Iowa also plans to release COVID-19 case numbers weekly, beginning this Friday. A spokesman with the university didn’t have an update on numbers for The Gazette on Tuesday.

The new campus numbers at UI and ISU come as state cases continue to rise — adding 571 new positives in a 24-hour period as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average to 605, its first time over 600.

Johnson County, home to UI, added 84 new cases Tuesday, for a total of 2,650 and a seven-day average of 58 — its highest ever. The county’s daily totals of 91 Sunday, 86 Monday, and 84 Tuesday are its three highest so far.

Story County, home to ISU, added 37 new cases Tuesday. It added six new cases Monday.

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Faculty members told The Gazette on Monday many students already were emailing to say they wouldn’t be able to attend in-person classes for COVID-19 reasons.

Students already are receiving emails warning they’ve been exposed to the virus and to watch for symptoms. Although they can’t know for themselves how close of contact they’ve had, in many cases, because the university can’t share names of positive individuals.

All this comes after a weekend of downtown partying in the Iowa City bars, which did not appear to be enforcing distancing regulations inside their establishments. Although many bars required masks to get in, like IDs, most students were seen taking off the masks once inside.

All three campuses have urged voluntary compliance with guidance to wear face coverings, socially distance, wash hands, and use sanitizer. But — after a weekend of partying in Ames earlier this month — ISU President Wendy Wintersteen enacted a new social gatherings policies requiring compliance at both on- and off-campus gatherings involving students.

And she threatened suspension for violators.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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