CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa's COVID-19 tally grows while seven-day average falls

UI officials praise extended bar closure

A sign in support of University of Iowa health care workers is seen in front of the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City on F
A sign in support of University of Iowa health care workers is seen in front of the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City on Friday, April 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa added another 33 cases of COVID-19 to its campus tally over the weekend — bringing its total since Aug. 18 to 1,945 and its student number over the 1,900 threshold.

But the campus noted its seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, and staff has dropped from a peak of 120 on Sept. 1 to fewer than 20 — its lowest level since at least Aug. 25. And administrators praised Gov. Kim Reynolds’ extended bar-closure mandate for Johnson and Story counties — home to UI and Iowa State University, respectively — through Sept. 27.

“The university continues to work with local and state officials to support and implement policies to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” according to a UI campus message issued Monday. “The university is pleased with the proclamation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.”

The proclamation, which also stops restaurants from serving alcohol after 10 p.m., initially took effect Aug. 27 — when the UI seven-day rolling average was at more than 80 cases and climbing after students had been seen packed into and outside bars without masks or distancing.

Some UI students, faculty, and staff have called for the campus to shut down any remaining in-person courses and shift everything online sooner than originally planned — after the Thanksgiving holiday. But UI administrators have said some want an in-person experience and a majority of undergraduate credit hours already are online, justifying their decision to stay the hybrid course — both for this fall and the spring semester.

“What has occurred since the initial spike in late August is a reduction and now a plateau of positive cases, according to self-reported cases by University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff,” according to a UI campus message Monday. “While we must remain vigilant, it should be acknowledged that, as a community, we have considerably slowed the spread of the disease.”

UI officials conceded, however, “If the positive case rates spike and stay high, the university will consider additional actions.”

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Iowa State University updates its COVID-19 case numbers Mondays, but it had not yet done so at 4 p.m. As of Sept. 13, ISU had tallied 1,553 COVID-19 cases.

University of Northern Iowa on Monday upped its Student Health Center case totals to 152 — although it’s not breaking out those numbers by students and employees.

UNI also is reporting 67 “self-reported” cases identified through the campus’ Panther Health Survey. Because those cases also might be counted in Student Health Center totals, administrators warned against adding them to the Health Center numbers.

All three campuses have reserved space in their residence halls for isolating sick or infected students and quarantining their close contacts.

As of Monday, UNI had 27 students in quarantine and eight in isolation. UI had 11 residence hall students in isolation and one in quarantine. And ISU still was reporting 38 in residence hall isolation and 49 in quarantine.

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

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