More than 1,100 UI students have tested positive for COVID-19

A view of downtown Iowa City, including the University of Iowa Pentacrest and Iowa River, from a plane, June 2018. — Emma McClatchey/Little Village

Another 220 University of Iowa students self-reported positive COVID-19 tests between Monday and Wednesday, according to the latest update to the UI COVID-19 information page. Three more staff members also self-reported positive test results.

The new cases bringing the number of UI students who have self-reported COVID-19 to the university since Aug. 18 to 1,142. Sixteen members of the university’s staff have self-reported cases.

According to UI, there are currently 24 residence hall students in quarantine and 78 residence hall students in self-isolation. The university defines quarantine as keeping “someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others,” and self-isolation as separating “people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.”

The university does not report the date on which students and staff tested positive.

The Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting at 10 a.m. on Thursday that a total 4,197 residents of Johnson County had tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 99 confirmed cases from the same time on Wednesday.

The department’s official 14-day average positivity rate for the county increased to 24.4 percent on Thursday.

Statewide, IDPH reported another 662 Iowans had tested positive for the virus in the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The newly reported cases include 21 residents of Linn County.

The department also reported another nine deaths from the virus between 10 a.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. on Thursday. Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 1,134.

In its Wednesday COVID-19 update, UI also announced that its December 2020 commencement ceremonies will be held online instead of in-person because of the continued spread of COVID-19.

“We know how much these ceremonies mean to our students and their families,” the UI statement said. “And while December seems a long way off, we feel it is the right decision to make now to maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community.”

As the university was updating its COVID-19 information on Wednesday, some of its students, faculty and other staff members were participating in a “sick out” aimed at pushing the UI administration to switch to all online classes to help ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

According to the UI Sickout Twitter account, 916 people participated in the demonstration, but an independent count isn’t available.

UI administrators condemned the sick out, asserting the university has done enough to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic.

“I respectfully remind you that as role models, you have an obligation to deliver instruction as assigned, and to provide appropriate notice of absences due to illness,” Interim Provost Kevin Kregel wrote in an email to faculty members on Tuesday. “We also would expect appropriate documentation of sick leave usage.”