AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University will provide weekly updates on COVID-19 test results.
The data will include testing conducted at Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC) for students, faculty and staff who were symptomatic or exposed to someone who tested positive, as well as test results from the athletic department.
From July 1-Aug. 23, the university conducted a total of 10,683 tests, including move-in testing at Lied Rec, for a cumulative positivity percentage of 3.4%. Since Aug. 1, Thielen Student Health Center has been testing symptomatic individuals and those who have come into close contact with known positives. Over the course of that period, TSHC has tested 1,849 individuals with a positivity rate of 8.8%.
During the first week of classes (Aug. 17-23), 957 students, faculty and staff were tested on campus with a total of 130 positive cases for a positivity rate of 13.6%. There are currently 204 positive individuals still within their 10-day CDC-defined isolation period. Nineteen are isolating in on-campus housing. There are 385 individuals still in their 14-day CDC-defined quarantine period due to close contact with a known positive. Thirty-one of these individuals are quarantining in on-campus housing.
“We are monitoring the data closely to quickly identify and address trends,” said Kristen Obbink, ISU’s COVID-19 public health coordinator. “The university is taking a targeted approach with testing, which allows us to take the appropriate steps to reduce the spread of infection. Our public health team is providing case investigation and contact tracing. We also have adequate isolation and quarantine housing available.”
Contact tracing and symptom tracking
Anyone who tests positive must isolate for 10 days, until symptoms have improved and they have not had a fever for 24 hours. The public health team notifies all close contacts of exposure and provides information for testing and quarantine.
Close contacts, notified through the contact tracing process, must quarantine for 14 days, even if they test negative for COVID-19. The CDC defines a close contact as anyone within 6 feet of a positive case for at least 15 consecutive minutes.
Symptom tracking is another important mitigation strategy. Students, faculty and staff receive a daily email or text message to determine if they should come to campus or consult with their doctor about symptoms. Students and employees are also required to self-report.
“Self-reporting requirements help us monitor illness, but also provide support to students, faculty and staff,” said Erin Baldwin, assistant vice president for student health and wellness and TSHC director. “It is so important people use the online form to self-report if they test positive for COVID-19 at a facility other than TSHC. This allows our public health team to follow-up with resources and contact tracing.”
Testing is one of several metrics university leaders will utilize to monitor and analyze campus conditions throughout the semester. The goal is to pinpoint areas to intervene and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Weekly reports will be provided every Monday afternoon.