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COVID-19 cases trend back downwards after brief increase

<p>On March 16, 2020, a Charlottesville resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It was the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the piedmont region.</p>

On March 16, 2020, a Charlottesville resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It was the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the piedmont region.

The weekly average of COVID-19 cases per day for students, faculty and staff have gone  down, with an average of 11.71 cases per day reported Monday and an average of 7.57 cases reported Thursday. Currently, a total of 24 individuals are hospitalized for COVID-19 at U.Va. Health.

On Jan. 11 — the peak of the wave of cases caused by the omicron variant — the seven-day average was 74.43 new cases per day. 

There are 110 active cases of COVID-19 within the University community, compared with 118 active cases last week. 66 of the active cases are students and 44 are faculty and staff, per the University’s COVID-19 tracker

Hospitalization rates have continued to decrease over the last few weeks — the seven-day average for new hospitalizations was 7.14 on March 31 and was 5.57 as of Thursday. 4 patients were admitted to U.Va. Health with COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the current total of COVID-19 hospitalizations to 24.

The seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 was 11.88 percent Thursday, down from 16.02 percent last week. Test positivity rates for students have gone down to 9.61 percent, considerably lower than the 15.76 percent positivity rate of staff and faculty members. 

The University is currently at two percent occupancy for isolation rooms, reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The University’s COVID-19 tracker will continue to be updated, even though the University has phased out its saliva testing program due to a lack of demand, per University spokesperson Brian Coy. 

The University ended its saliva testing program March 24, citing decreased demand for testing. In the last week of testing, the testing center was averaging 135 tests per day, Coy said. Instead, the University will offer a limited supply of no-cost rapid tests to asymptomatic students, faculty and staff in the Academic Division at the Student Health and Wellness pharmacy and the U.Va. Bookstore pharmacy.

University administrators stopped requiring masking in non-U.Va Health classrooms starting March 28, after rescinding them March 21 for University-owned spaces including office buildings, IM-Rec facilities and venues. The mandate will remain in place in U.Va. Health facilities.

The University cited recent improvements in public health data as the reason behind lifting the restrictions. Hospitalizations and positive cases have been trending downward as the percentage of faculty, staff and students who are fully vaccinated has increased.

The Centers for Disease Control reclassified Charlottesville City and Albemarle County’s COVID-19 community level from “medium” to “low” recently. The CDC uses three metrics to measure the community levels — new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, total cases per 100,0-00 residents, both measured weekly, and the percentage of inpatient hospital occupant beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Over 99 percent of students comply with the University’s vaccination requirements while 85 percent of employees have received booster shots.

While the University previously required all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated — and the University announced a booster requirement prior to the start of the spring semester, the University no longer require faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, per an email sent Jan. 19 to University employees by Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, Chief Operation Officer J.J. Davis and K. Craig Kent, executive vice president for health affairs. 

In the Blue Ridge Health District, 77.1 percent of individuals have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 72.3 percent of individuals are fully vaccinated. In addition to those fully vaccinated, 43.3 percent have been vaccinated with a third booster dose.

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

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