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Monday, November 29, 2021
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UW-Madison sees decline in COVID-19 cases, UHS urges maintenance of social distancing

The UW-Madison 7-day COVID-19 percent positive rate has decreased to 1.0 percent, following the university’s decision to pause in-person instruction and campus activities from Sept. 10 to the 25.

Over a month after Sept. 9, when a record 290 UW-Madison students and faculty tested positive for COVID-19 with a 12.8 percent positive rate, the 7-day on-campus positive testing rate now reached one percent, with 15 new cases reported Tuesday according to the Smart Restart dashboard

The University Health Services (UHS) Director of Strategic Communications & Marketing Marlena Holden noted UHS’s efforts that contributed to the decline in cases. 

“We continued to partner with campus to ensure the health and safety of students, staff and faculty,” Holden said. “We provided additional testing for those living in quarantined residence halls, increased testing for the remainder of the semester two weekly and saw numbers improve after campus quarantined two residence halls with high rates.”

The Sellery and Witte dorms and over 26 fraternity and sorority houses were also directed to quarantine.

“The pause in instruction and the quarantines made very clear to students what’s at stake,” Holden said. “We also put in place even stricter campus public health protocols (for example, requiring masks outdoors as well as indoors) and more frequent testing of those living in residence halls.”

Since the outbreak, UW-Madison has implemented more testing initiatives. On Oct. 6, UW-Madison also opened up the Porter Boathouse, where the University rowing teams practice in the Winter, as an additional COVID-19 testing facility for curbside and pedestrian testing.

“Campus testing capacity continues to grow,” Holden said. “We are now testing residence hall students weekly, up from every two weeks. With the addition this week of another testing site at Porter Boathouse, we expect to be able to test as many as 14,000 people per week.”

UHS and Holden urge students to maintain efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including following public health guidelines, keeping a six foot distance from others, wearing face coverings and limiting contact with people who individuals do not share a residence with.

“Early research indicates that individuals can contract COVID-19 more than once,” Holden said. “It’s imperative that people are safe to protect themselves and others.”

In regards to recently-updated CDC guidelines saying that the virus can spread across distances of more than six feet indoors, UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the university has not altered their policies on in-person instruction.

"We're evaluating the CDC update just as we do all updates to public health guidance,” McGlone said. “At this point they haven't changed their specific recommendations about classrooms.” 

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To follow COVID-19 updates on the UW-Madison campus, check out the Smart Restart Dashboard. This is also the last week for students and faculty to get flu shots on campus

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