February 26, 2021
The number of COVID-19 cases at the University of Wyoming during the spring semester so far is significantly lower than the fall semester, in tandem with a declining trend in cases across the state and nation.
Of the 1,994 total cases reported among UW employees and students since the pandemic began, 179 have been reported so far this calendar year. And, even as UW has continued a rigorous testing program this semester, the positivity rate for the first five weeks has been significantly lower than during the same period in the fall semester.
For example, while the prevalence of the sample increased from .34 percent in the first week of the fall semester to .85 percent in week five, it fell from .34 percent in the first week of the spring semester to. 07 percent in week five.
As of Thursday, the number of active cases was six: two students on campus and four students off campus. The number of people in 14-day quarantine due to exposure to the virus is 15 to 12 students on campus and three students and employees off campus.
“This is a positive and dramatic change, and I want to thank the entire UW family for taking a step forward to help make our community safer, both those who participate responsibly in testing and those who work without cease to manage the process, “says UW President Ed Seidel. “We know that our requirements for testing, physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings have required a lot from our community. But our students, faculty and staff have shown true UW cowboy spirit by complying, and these steps have helped us get to where we are today. “
The UW surveillance program, one of the most innovative in the nation, has conducted a total of 116,153 tests, with 1,277 positive results, for a prevalence rate of 1.11 percent. So far this month, however, there have been only 60 positives out of 29,325 tests, for a prevalence rate of 0.20 percent.
Public health experts say continued compliance with COVID-19 requirements and guidelines is essential for the trend to continue.
“Now is not the time to let your guard down,” says Seidel. “The virus still exists and we could see a resurgence if we conclude that this battle is over and stop what we are doing.”
UW plans a fall semester of 2021 with more in-person experiences and fewer restrictions related to COVID-19, depending on the availability and acceptance of the vaccine, along with continued downward trends in the number of infections.
Under the plan, UW faculty and staff would need to have access to the vaccine at least six weeks before the fall semester’s scheduled August 23 start for the semester to continue with face-to-face classes at full capacity. , face-to-face student engagement programs, in-person athletic experiences, and the like. Additionally, it will be necessary to relax the Wyoming Department of Health rules and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding meetings and classroom capacity. The efficacy and acceptance of the vaccine (at this point, at least 70 percent of the UW community members will need to be vaccinated to achieve the necessary levels of immunity) will also be considered, along with infection rates for COVID-19.
College leaders hope to have enough information on those issues by early June to make a final determination on the focus of the fall semester.
UW is collaborating with Albany County Public Health and Ivinson Memorial Hospital to administer vaccines to county residents who are in priority program categories 4 through 6 of Phase 1b in the Department of Health distribution guidelines. from Wyoming. It is not yet known when Albany County will begin Phase 1c, but UW staff and faculty, along with residency students, will be included in that phase. All students will be encouraged to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, based on their current locations.
More information on the UW COVID-19 response can be found at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is updated as information becomes available. Those with questions about testing and other COVID-19 issues can call (307) 766-COVD (2683) or email [email protected]
Specific questions about the vaccine should be emailed to [email protected] A UW vaccine web page has been established at www.uwyo.edu/alerts/campus-return/vaccination.