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UPDATE: IU reports increase in COVID-19 positivity rates for first time in a month, correlates with record Indiana cases


Signs direct students where to go for mitigation testing Thursday outside of Franklin Hall. The decision to put testing in Presidents Hallwas made without the knowledge of the dean of The Media School, James Shanahan. Ethan Levy

This story will be updated weekly to reflect IU dashboard updates. The latest update was Oct.14

After four consecutive weeks of decreases in COVID-19 positivity rates, IU reported an increase in both mitigation and symptomatic testing positivity rates in Wednesday’s dashboard update. Even though it increased, the mitigation positivity rate over last week’s testing was still the second lowest weekly rate. 

Testing included in this update was conducted from Oct. 4-10. 

In Bloomington alone, the mitigation testing positivity rate increased from 1.05% the week prior to 1.1% last week. There are 98 reported new cases in Bloomington, which is a slight decrease from the week prior, although IU did again conduct fewer total tests. 

IU conducted fewer than 9,000 tests last week in Bloomington, which marks a fourth straight week of fewer total tests and the biggest decrease in number of tests per week during that stretch. 

Broken down by group, live-in greek students had a 1.4% positivity rate last week, which is down from 1.5%. Dorm residents had a 1.1% positivity rate, which is down from 1.5%. Greek students living out of the house had a 2.5% positivity rate, down from 3.5%. All other off campus students had a 0.8% rate, which is up from 0.5% the week prior. 

Symptomatic testing positivity rates jumped from 16.45% to 21.05% last week. 

The prevalence rate in Bloomington increased to 0.8% from 0.7% the week prior. The isolation and quarantine facilities — meaning Ashton — increased to 11.1% of capacity from 7.6% the week prior. 

The increasing positivity rates correlates with Indiana moving into stage 5 earlier this month and the record spike in new cases that have come over the last week. Oct. 9 was Indiana’s single-day record for new cases, with nearly 2,000. The state is currently averaging a little over 1,600 new cases per day, which is the highest average it has ever had. 

Monroe County itself passed the 3,000 case milestone over the weekend. 

IU reports that the increasing cases are manageable — and this is something IU leaders said in previous webinars they expected once colder weather began to arrive. IU wrote in the dashboard it is not easing any of its own restrictions to this point as the state enters stage 5. 

IU reported on the dashboard it will be increasing testing this week due to the rise in rates. IU has always said it would test students weekly once its labs open in mid-October. The labs, however, are not yet open. 

IU also included links in the dashboard for students, faculty and staff to sign up for required flu shots and additionally reports that anyone experiencing flu symptoms is required to isolate until it is confirmed that person does not have COVID-19. 

Oct. 7

For a fourth straight week, IU reports a decrease in new cases as well as COVID-19 mitigation and symptomatic positivity rates. 

This Wednesday’s dashboard update covers testing conducted over the week of Sept. 27 through Oct. 3. The school continues to report it is not seeing any indications for COVID-19 spread in classrooms. Dr. Aaron Carroll, IU’s director of mitigation testing, said that is a main reason why IU has never had a shut down similar to what other in-state schools like Butler University and University of Notre Dame have had. 

IU-Bloomington had a 1.08% mitigation testing positivity rate last week. That is down from 1.44% the week prior. That brought the overall positivity rate in Bloomington to 3.3%. Across all campuses, IU had a mitigation testing positivity rate of below 1% in a given week for the first time. 

There were 103 new cases reported in Bloomington over the last week. That brings the total number of positive tests found by mitigation testing to 1,823. That is the smallest increase in total positive tests IU has had in a single week. 

Broken down by groups, live-in greek students had a 1.6% positivity rate last week out of 773 tests. Off-campus greek affiliated students had a 3.4% positivity rate out of 235 tests. Dorm residents had a 1.2% positivity rate out of 6,297 tests. All other off-campus students had a 0.5% positivity rate out of 1,846 tests. 

All of those rates are decreased compared to the week prior.

Symptomatic testing declined as well, with a 16.45% positivity rate last week. That’s down from just over 19% the week prior. This is a fourth straight week of decline in symptomatic testing positivity rates and total positive tests. There have been 739 recorded positives in Bloomington from symptomatic testing and a 35.4% positivity rate since Aug. 1. 

The dashboard reports since Aug. 24, IU has tested 4,968 faculty and staff with only 11 total positives across all campuses. Faculty and staff had no positive results over the last week. 

The COVID-19 prevalence rate for all of IU is 0.4% and in Bloomington is 0.7%. 

Isolation and quarantine facility utilization was roughly cut in half to 7.6%, down from 14% the week prior in Bloomington. Those facilities refer to the Ashton dorm which houses only on-campus residents — but not greek live-in students — who are either sick with COVID-19 or quarantined there as a close contact of someone who did test positive. 

While IU’s new cases and positivity rates declined, IU-Bloomington also administered fewer total tests for a third straight week. IU’s lowest total week of testing was the week of Sept. 6, during which there were fewer than 8,000 tests. That came the week after IU’s highest week of positivity rates. 

The total number of tests went back above 10,000 the next week, the week of Sept. 13. However, that total has declined every week since. 

As of last week’s dashboard update, IU continues to plan for its on-campus labs to open by mid-October. When those labs open, IU plans to have around 15,000 tests per day and every student tested at least one-to-two times per week. However, IU still has not given an official date of when those labs will open and when that increased testing will actually begin. 

As greek house quarantines end and many live-in residents move out of the homes, the total number of greek students tested continues to decline as the highest rate. Through the first few weeks of classes, that was the group where IU heavily weighted testing. This past week, 1,008 total tests were given to greek students including those both living in the house and those living out. That is the fewest number of tests in a given week to greek life affiliated students. 

Among greek houses, there were over 800 positive cases, and all of those students will not be selected for mitigation testing for 90 days after their positive result, according to IU’s policy. 

IU did not provide a reason for the small decline in total tests.

As of Oct. 7, only six greek houses remain in quarantine. Two of those are Alpha Epsilon Pi — which was ordered to close and given a cease and desist order — and Sigma Phi Epsilon which was also given a cease and desist order. 

As greek house positivity rates continue to decline, that large focus of testing has shifted to the dorms. 

Sept. 30

IU’s COVID-19 dashboard reported a decrease in new cases and positivity rates for the third consecutive week in its Wednesday update. 

This week’s update included data from Sept. 20-26. 

The overall mitigation testing positivity rate across all IU campuses was 1.3% last week. In Bloomington alone, that rate was 1.43%. Both are decreases compared to what the previous update reported.

The highest single-week positivity rate in Bloomington was 7.26%, which was reported in the Aug. 30 dashboard update. Total new cases and positivity rates have decreased every week since. 

IU reported 152 new cases in Bloomington from mitigation testing last week, down from 215 the week prior. That brings the total number of positives in mitigation testing to 1,719. There have been 46,000 mitigation tests conducted in Bloomington, according to the dashboard. 

The dashboard also reports a 1.8% positivity rate last week among communal housing residents, which includes greek houses. That is a decrease from 3.1% the week prior. However, 824 tests were administered to communal housing residents, which is a decline compared to the heavier testing IU had previously conducted in that section of students. 

That decline in total tests coincides with many greek students choosing to move out of the house over anxieties of a potential second quarantine, according to a source. Only nine houses remain on quarantine. 

Additionally, some houses have had large numbers of students leave to comply with Monroe County’s policies on total capacity in communal living, which is capped at 75%. 

Greek students living out of the houses had a 5.3% positivity rate last week of 263 tests, which is a slight increase from 4.9% the week prior. 

All other off-campus students had a 0.8% positivity rate last week. Dorm residents — which received the largest percentage of the total tests last week — had a 1.5% positivity rate, which is down from 2.2% the week prior. 

IU also reported a 0.3% positivity rate among staff and faculty last week. 

Symptomatic positivity rates had another sharp decrease, with a 19.67% positivity rate in Bloomington last week. That’s down from 28.35% the week prior and 41.65% the week before that. 

IU Bloomington’s quarantine and isolation facilities are at 14% capacity. That is after the capacity remained at 21% for the two previous weeks. 

IU calculated a 0.9% COVID-19 prevalence rate in Bloomington, which is a decrease from last week’s dashboard update, too. 

According to the weekly briefing on the dashboard, students should expect an increase in mitigation testing with flu season and colder weather. Dr. Aaron Carroll, IU’s director of mitigation testing, has said for over a month he plans to test every student 1-2 times per week once IU’s own labs open, which is expected to happen mid-October.

Sept. 23

For the second straight week, IU’s COVID-19 dashboard reported a decrease in overall positivity rate in both mitigation and symptomatic testing as well as the total new cases. 

IU had a 1.88% positivity rate in mitigation testing across all campuses last week, down from 3.6% the week prior. In Bloomington alone, the positivity decreased by over half compared to the week prior — from 4.61% to 2.2%. 

The positivity rate among greek students living in the homes dropped to 3.3% last week from 14.6% the week before according to the dashboard. That rate has dropped all the way from roughly 25% in the Sept. 8 update. 

This coincides with nearly 20 greek houses coming off quarantine

Students in residence halls returned a decrease in positivity rates, down to 2.2% last week. Greek residents living out of the houses had a 5% positivity rate, a slight decrease as well. 

All other off-campus students in Bloomington had a 1.8% positivity rate, which is  a drop from 2.9% the week prior. 

That brings the overall positivity rate in Bloomington down to 4.4%, and the overall positivity rate across all campuses down to 3.7%. IU-Bloomington has conducted over 35,000 mitigation tests.

In mitigation testing, the Bloomington campus reported 215 new cases through mitigation testing, which is a decrease from the 447 new cases reported in the last update. IU-Bloomington has reported 1,567 total positive cases in mitigation testing since Aug. 24. 

Symptomatic testing positivity rates in Bloomington decreased to 28.14% over the last week compared to 41.41% the week prior. The overall symptomatic testing positivity rate is 38.4% in Bloomington. 

IU reported one positive test across 943 staff and faculty tests last week. 

The quarantine and isolation facilities in Bloomington remain at 21% capacity. 

The COVID-19 prevalence rate in Bloomington decreased from 2.4% to 1.6%. The data reports that same rate to be 0.8% for the overall IU population, according to the dashboard.  

The decrease in positivity rates and new cases has IU medical leaders like Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Cole Beeler, IU’s directors of mitigation testing and symptomatic testing respectively, feeling cautiously optimistic about the semester and overall academic year. 

Carroll has consistently said in weekly webinars he has not seen any indication of spread coming from a classroom setting. 

IU still plans to increase testing with new labs in Indiana opening up in October. That will decrease the response time compared to current mitigation tests, which are sent to Vault labs in New Jersey. Eventually, Carroll said IU intends to test every student at least one-to-two times every week. 

Sept. 16

The overall positivity rate for all students in Bloomington — including those in greek houses — decreased in Wednesday’s COVID-19 dashboard update. 

Data in this week’s update comes from testing conducted between Sept. 5 and Sept. 11. 

Over the course of that week, IU reported 447 total new cases in Bloomington over last week, which is a decrease in the total of new cases from the week prior. That cumulative total of positive mitigation tests is 1,352. 

Only 30 other positive tests have been reported from IU campuses outside Bloomington.  

IU reported a 3.7% positivity rate across all campuses over the week of Sept. 5. That is down from the 6.2% positivity rate the week prior.

In Bloomington, greek house positivity rates over the last week dropped to 15.4% from 25.3%. Greek students living out of the houses returned a 10.9% positivity rate last week, decreasing from 14.1%.

Positivity rates for students living in dorms as well as those living off campus both had positivity rates below 3%, and both saw slight decreases in already low positivity rates from the week prior. 

This brings the overall positivity rate in Bloomington for all mitigation testing since Aug. 24 to 5.4%. That number was 5.5% in last week’s update. 

IU’s isolation and quarantine facilities are at 21% of capacity, down from 34% last week. A few greek houses have been taken off quarantine, however 30 still remain quarantined according to the school’s website. At one point, 33 greek houses were in quarantine. 

Symptomatic positivity rates dropped from just over 50% two weeks ago to 41.98% last week.

Additionally, IU reported a 0.3% positivity rate among staff and faculty. It also reported a 2.4% prevalence rate of COVID-19 in Bloomington.

There are still no reports of hospitalizations at this point. 

IU wrote in the dashboard it is “cautiously optimistic” of the week’s decrease in positivity rates. 

Sept. 8

IU’s total positive COVID-19 mitigation test results have more than tripled since last week’s total, according to the Tuesday dashboard update. 

The school reported 905 total cases —  a 631 case increase — in this week’s mitigation testing update. The overall positivity rate in Bloomington increased from 3.5% to 5.5%. The week of August 31 alone had a 7.26% positivity rate.

IU reported 1,370 total positive cases across mitigation and symptomatic cases including all campuses. Of those, 1,226 are from the Bloomington campus. 

At IU-Bloomington, 16,448 total mitigation tests have been administered over the first two weeks.

IU’s symptomatic test positivity rate increased to above 50% over the last week as well. The overall symptomatic positivity rate is 38.6% in Bloomington, equating to 341 positive tests.  

The dashboard additionally reports that 24.56% of the 1,421 live-in greek students who were tested over the last week returned positive. That is up from 8.1% over the first week of mitigation testing. 

Greek affiliated students living outside the houses produced a 13.7% positivity rate of 540 students tested. 

Dorm residents had a 3.64% positivity rate over the 4,201 students tested. Off campus residents had a 4.66% positivity rate of 1,395 students tested. 

More than 1,000 faculty and staff members were tested over the last week with a 0.48% positivity rate. 

IU has introduced a tracker of how full the quarantine and isolation facilities are, which can be found on its dashboard. The facilities in Bloomington are 34% full. Those spaces are only open to students living in residence halls. 

Aug. 31

IU’s public COVID-19 testing dashboard reported 274 positive cases out of 7,872 mitigation tests over the first week of classes in a Monday update. 

This equates to a 3.5% positivity rate. The dashboard notes this is not the entirety of the data, given that tests have a two to three day lag in response time.

Greek house residents had an 8.1% positivity rate. Students in residence halls had a 1.63% positivity rate. The university reports it will focus additional testing on dorms with high positivity rates and greek houses.

"The rate of positive results within greek houses is concerning," the dashboard reports. "The rate in our residence halls shows a slight uptick above on-arrival testing, although similar to what other universities with robust testing programs have seen."

The overall positivity rate across the entire IU system is 3.1%. Of 8,900 students tested, 277 were positive.

This is the school’s first release of mitigation testing numbers after IU initially released the dashboard Friday without this data. 

IU-Bloomington began randomly selecting students for mitigation testing with the start of classes. Those tests are being conducted at sites including Franklin Hall and Memorial Stadium.  

Last week, 11 greek houses have been forced to quarantine as a result of a rise in positive COVID-19 test numbers. The school did not release the testing numbers for those greek houses and the dashboard does not indicate how many of the 274 positive tests come from greek houses. 

The dashboard will be updated weekly with mitigation and diagnostic test information across all IU campuses

IU’s symptomatic testing positivity rate decreased as well.

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