The University’s overall seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate has reached 16.60 percent as the holiday season takes hold, with 62 positive cases reported Monday — 54 of which were faculty and staff. This is the highest number of daily faculty and staff COVID-19 cases since the University’s COVID-19 tracker began recording in Aug. 2020, with the previous high being 17 cases on both Jan. 5 and Sept. 10.
The seven-day average positivity rate for students currently stands at 11.74 percent compared to 18.75 percent for faculty and staff. Of the 197 faculty and staff tested Monday, 54 tests came back positive, whereas of the 31 students tested on the same day, 8 tested positive, making the daily positivity rate for the University community on Monday approximately 27 percent. There are currently 149 active cases in the University community, 118 of which come from faculty and staff.
The rise in COVID-19 cases at the University is consistent with an increase in cases nationwide as the highly transmissible omicron variant spreads. The U.S. set a record high of daily cases Tuesday, with 512,553 cases reported as of Tuesday afternoon, far exceeding the previous high of 294,015 cases on Jan. 8. The seven-day average positivity rate has also reached a record high.
With the spike in cases Monday, the total number of faculty and staff cases this fall has exceeded that of students, standing at 581 cases compared to 555. All full-time and part-time employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by a deadline of Jan. 4 in accordance with public health guidelines, after which they may be subject to disciplinary action. More than 95 percent of University employees are already vaccinated.
The University announced Dec. 21 that all planning to live, work or study on Grounds this spring are required to receive COVID-19 booster shots, barring previously approved religious or medical exemptions. All students and faculty must upload proof of a booster by Feb. 1 to their respective HealthyHoos or Workday portals. Students and faculty taking part in J-term courses are encouraged to get a booster shot prior to the start of classes Jan. 3.
Due to the surge in cases and uncertainty surrounding the course of the pandemic, several universities — including Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Emory and multiple University of California campuses — have temporarily moved classes online for the first few weeks of the spring. The University currently plans to begin the spring semester in person Jan. 19, but will provide any further updates no later than Jan. 14 should changes be necessary.