University of Texas reports record number of COVID-19 cases
The University of Texas on Monday reported a record number of COVID-19 cases among students, staff and faculty.
UT reported 108 positive cases of COVID-19 students and 25 cases of faculty and staff on Monday, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. All tests were administered on Monday.
This is the second-highest number of cases ever reported in one day among UT students and the highest number ever reported among faculty and staff.
The data provides the first reflection on the impact of COVID-19 on the university since UT suspended communication of COVID-19 tests during a vacation break. The record number of cases comes as the highly transmissible variant of omicron continues to spread in Texas and nationwide and threatens the regular operations of universities across the country.
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The UT reported the first three cases of the omicron variant in Austin among members of the campus community last month, and cases of COVID-19 among the UT community have increased significantly since then. Darlene Bhavnani, epidemiologist at UT, previously told the American-Statesman that the increase in cases is likely due to the omicron variant.
On Monday, the university reported a total positivity rate of 9.95% among students, staff and faculty who participated in proactive community testing, including 74 students and 23 faculty and staff. UT performs proactive community testing for asymptomatic members of the UT community with no known exposure to COVID-19.
The remaining 34 students and two faculty and staff tested positive Monday in clinical tests, which are performed for UT students, faculty, and staff who are symptomatic or are asymptomatic close contacts identified through the contact tracing.
The previous daily record for the total number of COVID-19 cases among students, staff and faculty was set on September 11, 2020, when UT reported 109 student cases and seven cases among faculty and staff . Many of the reported test results included positive cases among holders of student football season tickets, who were due to get tested before the home football game against UT-El Paso.
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Austin Public Health last week moved Austin to step 4 of its risk-based five-step guidelines, which indicate the threat level of community spread of the coronavirus. The change was made in response to an increase in the community transmission rate, the test positivity rate and the 7-day moving average of hospital admissions driven by the omicron variant.
Under step 4, everyone should wear masks during all activities, and partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people should avoid gatherings with people outside their homes and only travel and shop if essential, according to Austin Public Health.
UT classes will resume in about two weeks on January 18th. Students at the residences will need to get tested for COVID-19 before the start of the semester, and the university encourages all other students to also get tested within 72 hours before they return to Austin or to class.