Over the last week UW-Madison recorded its lowest ever seven-day COVID-19 student positivity average for tests administered on campus, marking a milestone for the university’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
According to university data, 54 students tested positive for COVID-19 since March 5, out of 40,056 tests administered in that period, for a positivity rate of 0.1 percent. Similarly, the employee seven day positivity rate was also just 0.1 percent, though staff positivity rates have been much lower than student rates since the start of the fall semester.
This semester UW has been using the Safer Badgers app to make sure students are in compliance with testing requirements on campus. To comply with campus testing requirements, students are instructed to get tested twice per week throughout the Spring 2021 semester. To enter campus buildings, students must have a negative test result from within four days (96 hours).
University administration expressed concern about a small surge in COVID-19 cases among the campus community in an email last month, however that curve peaked at 1.1 percent and has now flattened out.
As the weather warms and UW-Madison and Dane County COVID-19 restrictions have eased up, UW-Madison students are gathering outside and following varying degrees of COVID-19 public health guidelines.
Despite the seven day positivity average at UW sitting at its low point for the year, student gatherings on Lake Mendota and at bars like Chasers have garnered social media attention in the last two weeks.
These student gatherings have often been large events with little to no mask-wearing or physical distancing. The party on Lake Mendota took place before the recent loosening of gathering limits, while the lines seen at Chasers were Saturday morning.
In the most recent weekly briefing from the university, officials say it’s “critical” students test regularly, wear a two-layer face mask, avoid gatherings, and clean their hands frequently.