Iowa university COVID-19 cases tick up in line with state surge

Iowa State added 103 new cases over the last week

A sign marks the beginning of the COVID-19 testing line and check-in for students moving into campus housing at Lied Rec
A sign marks the beginning of the COVID-19 testing line and check-in for students moving into campus housing at Lied Recreation Center at Iowa State University in Ames on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — After weeks of dwindling COVID-19 cases across Iowa’s public universities, numbers are starting to tick up in line with a surge across the state, which over the weekend added a two-day combined total of 5,637 new cases to its swelling total of more than 131,700.

Iowa State University for the week of Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 added 103 new COVID-19 cases via on-campus testing and self-reported off-campus results — bringing its total since Aug. 1 to 1,978, including the 175 positives it added via mandatory move-in testing, according to data made public Monday.

The most recent week’s 103-case addition is 2.5 times the 42 added the week prior and nearly five times the 22 cases Iowa State added the week before that — from Oct. 12 to 18.

The University of Iowa — via its Monday, Wednesday, and Friday reports of last week — added 71 new COVID-19 cases, up from the previous week’s three-report total of 52. And on Monday UI reported another 35 cases from over the weekend.

The University of Northern Iowa reported 31 self-reported cases on campus over the last week, a marked increase from earlier in October.

The case increases have meant more students, faculty and staff in isolation and quarantine — which has the trickle-down effect on class scheduling, moving in-person classes online and mandating flexibility for ill students or employees.

The number of Iowa State students, faculty and staff in active isolation over the last week — meaning they tested positive for the virus — more than doubled from 50 to 114.


UNI reported 21 of its students were in quarantine in its halls over the last week, continuing a climb from its low of seven the first week of October.

UI reported Monday it has seven students in isolation and two in quarantine in its residence halls — on par with last week’s three in quarantine and eight in isolation.

The campus case increases come after the spike in statewide cases over the weekend and another 1,485 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours as of 11 a.m. Monday, according to The Gazette’s analysis of state data.

Johnson County, home of UI, added 226 new cases from Saturday to Monday — bringing its total to 6,292; Story, home to ISU, added 109 cases during that time, for 4,257; and Black Hawk, home to UNI, added 433 cases, for 6,495 total.

Nearby Linn County over the three days added 637 new COVID-19 cases.

In a campus message Monday, UI officials acknowledged the “gradual increase in the number of positive cases among students over the past ten days.”

“While data and contact tracing continue to show that the spread of the disease is not occurring in UI classrooms, our campus must remain dedicated to the practices that help to reduce transmission: wearing masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding large gatherings, and frequent hand washing,” according to the UI message. “If necessary, the university will consider additional actions in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.”

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