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U.Va. sees lowest weekly positivity rate for COVID-19 since Nov. 5

Cases drop as U.Va Health officials fire 64 employees for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

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The weekly average of COVID-19 cases per day decreased for students and remained the same for faculty this week, with a weekly average of one and three cases between Sunday and Thursday, respectively.

There are currently 35 active cases of COVID-19 within the University community, which brings the total case count for the fall semester to 883. Of the 35 cases, sixteen are students while nineteen are members of the faculty and staff, according to the University’s COVID-19 tracker

The seven-day average positivity rate Thursday was 0.98 percent, the lowest since a rate of 0.90 percent on Nov. 5. The seven-day average positivity rate for faculty and staff Thursday — 2.05 percent  — was over four times the 0.48 percent positivity rate for students.

The seven-day average of individuals tested per day was 263.1 Thursday, compared to 286.7 Sunday. Students make up a vast majority of those tested, with an average seven-day testing rate of 179.7 students and 83.4 faculty and staff. This number only includes tests administered through U.Va Health or LetsGetChecked and does not take into account other tests. 

Three patients were admitted to U.Va. Health with COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the current total of COVID-19 hospitalizations to 35. 

The University is currently at zero percent occupancy for quarantine rooms and one percent occupancy for isolation rooms. Quarantine rooms are for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, while isolation rooms are for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

In order to return to residential learning, students were required to either submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or provide documentation of an approved medical or religious exemption. 2.4 percent of students have documented vaccination exemptions, while 97 percent of students and 92 percent of faculty at the University are fully vaccinated. 

The University announced Oct. 21 that all full-time and part-time employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 8. The requirement is in accordance with President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14042, which was issued Sept. 9 to require employees of organizations with federal contracts be fully vaccinated, including institutions of higher education which contract with the government. 

However, on Nov. 4 President Biden extended the deadline by which federal employees or employees of certain organizations contracting with the federal government must acquire full-vaccination to Jan. 4. Subsequently, on Nov. 9, Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis announced in an email that the University was accordingly moving its deadline for Academic Division employees to receive their final dose to Jan. 4. 

Previously, faculty and staff at the University were strongly encouraged, but not required, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

While the change extended the deadline for Academic Division employees, all U.Va Health team members still faced termination or suspension for failing to comply with the U.Va Health system requirement to submit full proof of vaccination by Nov. 1.

When the Nov. 1 deadline passed, U.Va Health officials fired 64 employees and placed 18 more on suspension without pay for refusing to comply with the requirement. Two doctors and 38 nurses were among a total of 121 people terminated, suspended, or who quit over the policy.

U.Va Health team members were placed on administrative leave for five work shifts following the Nov. 1 deadline, at which point they were terminated barring proof of full vaccination. Of the 173 individuals not in compliance as of Nov. 1, over 50 came into compliance before facing termination.

The U.Va Health workforce is made up of nearly 14,500 individuals and officials have already hired new or temporary staff to fill the positions of the nearly one percent of employees gone.

U.Va Health began offering third doses and booster shots of COVID-19 Oct. 18 in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The University’s indoor mask mandate has been extended until the end of the fall semester, with exceptions for activities that are “particularly difficult” while wearing a mask such as using IM-Rec facilities and participating in indoor drama classes. 

Students who are symptomatic can make an appointment on their HealthyHoos portal to get tested this Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. at the Student Health and Wellness building. Faculty, staff and students can also undergo voluntary asymptomatic testing during walk-in testing hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium and the Emmet/Ivy parking garage.

The University’s COVID-19 tracker is updated every weekday at 4 p.m

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