Despite expanded testing efforts and increased enforcement of local public health guidelines, for weeks the UW-Madison campus has seen a steady increase in the number of reported positive COVID-19 cases.
The virus appeared to be under control on campus for much of October, with positive test results hovering around 1.0 percent after a two-week campus shutdown early in the semester curbed rapid spread.
At that time, UW-Madison saw a decrease in the total number of COVID-19 cases on campus — despite Madison and Dane County’s climbing positivity rates.
But according to data provided by the UW-Madison COVID-19 Response dashboard, new daily cases and test positivity rates among students and employees have been greater within the past week than they have been since surges of cases in September.
“It is unfortunately not surprising that we are also seeing an increase in positivity rates on campus, although our rates continue to be below the surrounding community,” said UW-Madison Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone. “We performed additional on-campus testing last week and will do so again this week to ensure we’re responding quickly to any concerns.”
On Nov. 7, 64 students and two employees tested positive for COVID-19. Exactly one month prior, just 11 students and one employee tested positive.
In the past month, seven-day averages for positivity rate and new daily cases have both more than tripled. The steady increase in positive cases began on Oct. 19 with a 7-day average of 0.9 percent. Ever since, the 7-day average has built up to a 2.5 percent positivity rate.
Although these numbers appear to be a significant improvement from heightened positivity rates back in September, the virus is still spreading dangerously fast.
“We cannot emphasize enough: all of us at UW must take this very seriously and strictly follow public health guidelines,” McGlone noted. “That includes avoiding gathering with anyone outside your household, wearing face coverings as much as possible and frequently washing/sanitizing your hands.”
“This is particularly important given that many students are planning to travel home at Thanksgiving. Protect yourself and your loved ones by limiting your out-of-home activity as much as possible for the next two and a half weeks.”