COVID-19 cases on Grounds continue to rapidly rise with 168 student cases and 6 faculty and staff cases reported Wednesday. This brings the total number of active cases in the University community to 779, 524 of which were reported between Monday and Wednesday.
Wednesday’s statistics come after the University saw 229 new cases Tuesday and 121 cases Monday, both of which set records for the largest single-day caseload. This brings the total count of active cases in the University community to 779 — 761 students and 18 staff and faculty. University administration issued a ban Tuesday on all in-person gatherings and restriction on nonessential activities for students living both on and off Grounds until Feb. 26 at the earliest in an effort to mitigate the spread.
On Feb. 12, the University issued a Return to Grounds update confirming the presence of the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant of the virus in the University community. The first known case of the variant — which spreads more easily than other COVID-19 variants — in Virginia was found Jan. 25, and as of Thursday there are eleven confirmed cases in the state according to the CDC.
The weekly average of new cases per day between Sunday and Wednesday was 134, in comparison to a weekly average of 35 between Feb. 7 and Feb. 13 — an increase of 99 cases between these two weeks.
The current number of active cases — 779 — make up 67 percent of the spring semester’s 1,148 cases. Just three weeks into the semester, the University community is 400 cases away from surpassing the fall semester’s 1,548 total cases.
The rise in cases is accompanied by increasing positivity rates — Wednesday’s seven-day average positivity rate is 3.24 percent, compared to a positivity rate of 2.60 percent Tuesday and 1.70 Monday. This means that the positivity rate has increased by 1.54 percent since Monday. The current seven-day average positivity rate for students is 3.52 percent, compared to .60 percent for faculty and staff.
Many students on social media have speculated that the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is related to Greek life recruitment, parts of which were permitted to be held in-person. In a University-wide email Thursday afternoon, however, University administrations said that there is a lack of evidence that this is the case.
“At this point, speculation that Greek organizations, or any other single group or part of our community, are solely or primarily responsible for rising cases is not supported by evidence,” the email said. “Transmission and noncompliance are widespread across our community, which is why our public health experts made an unequivocal recommendation to enact the community-wide restrictions announced on Tuesday.”
The Inter-fraternity Council also disputed allegations of noncompliance with public health guidelines in a statement Wednesday and claimed that chapters were required to follow “stringent public health guidelines” that were developed with the Office of the Dean of Students prior to the start of recruitment.
U.Va. Health continues to return testing results as quickly as possible, with the average test result returned in 10 hours. U.Va. Health has conducted 162,474 tests since Aug. 17.
The University added 200 new quarantine beds over the weekend. Students living in on-Grounds housing who come into contact with an infected individual are required to quarantine in designated University-run quarantine locations, while those living off Grounds who are exposed are required to quarantine in their residence for 14 days. Currently, 42 percent of quarantine beds and 20 percent of isolation beds are full, the highest rates of quarantine and isolation occupancy this year.
COVID-19 hospitalizations are also increasing, with 6 patients admitted to the hospital Wednesday, bringing the total number of admitted patients for COVID-19 to 42. The increase in hospitalizations has forced hospital staff to pick up extra shifts.
Protocols from previous weeks continue to be in effect, including the policy that students living in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area must undergo mandatory weekly asymptomatic testing at their assigned time and location as outlined in the Student Health portal. Students who fail to comply with mandatory testing are subject to disciplinary action with increasing severity. Faculty and staff can undergo voluntary asymptomatic testing at any point. If a community member believes they have been exposed to COVID-19, they should immediately contact Student Health and Wellness for further instructions on how to safely get tested.
The Cavalier Daily is currently investigating potential violations of public health guidelines relating to in-person recruitment events over the past two weeks. Community members can submit a tip on our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with information.