UW-Madison administration expressed concern about a recent surge in COVID-19 cases among the campus community in a Friday morning email to students.
According to the university COVID-19 dashboard, 67 cases were confirmed among students on Friday, Feb. 19. The seven-day positivity rate for students is 1 percent. In the email, Baggot noted that 112 positive student cases were reported on Wednesday, with an additional 99 positive student cases reported on Thursday.
“It is critical that we all act now to stop the spread and prevent the need for further restrictions, on and off campus,” wrote Jake Baggott, the Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of University Health Services.
Baggott made it clear that some students that have tested positive had attended gatherings — unmasked — according to contact tracers. He also reiterated worries about the presence of the more contagious COVID-19 variant, recently confirmed in Dane County.
If cases continue to rise among students, Baggott confirmed that more restrictions could be put in place, including potential residence hall quarantines, as well as limiting access or temporarily closing some facilities and campus spaces. Increasing testing and asking students to stay home are other potential efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that could be utilized, according to the Feb. 19 email.
COVID-19 spreads rapidly even with the increase in scope and frequency of testing, wrote Baggott.
“Testing alone is not enough — we must continue to follow all public health measures,” stressed Baggott, citing mask-wearing, regular COVID-19 testing, limiting trips outside of the home, physical distancing and washing hands as critical areas in which individuals can protect themselves and others.
The university has already required students in some residence halls to increase the frequency of their testing due to a rise in cases in those halls.
In addition to following public health guidelines, Baggott also emphasized the importance of treating Safer Badger workers with respect and kindness.
“Let’s ensure we learn from our experience last fall and act now to stop the spread,” concluded Baggott. “This will protect our families, friends, co-workers and the broader community.”