COVID-19 cases at IU are remaining stable amid surging cases across Indiana, IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll said during a weekly Ask Aaron webinar.
“Cases are surging in rural areas and hospitalizations are on the rise throughout Indiana, but that is not the case at IU,” Carroll said. IU is handling COVID-19 cases and vaccinations similarly to other Midwest schools like Purdue University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Two considerations are made when evaluating COVID-19 cases at IU: how the state is doing and how the campus is doing, Carroll said.
“In Indiana, cases are surging and hospitalizations are still on the rise,” Carroll said. “All of that is massively concerning, and most of it applies to the unvaccinated.”
All but three of Indiana’s counties exhibit medium to high or even very high community spread of COVID-19, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. ISDH’s county map reports La Grange, Porter and Monroe counties are the only ones showing moderate community spread.
Roughly 3.1 million out of 6.7 million Indiana residents are fully vaccinated, according to the ISDH vaccine dashboard. The IU COVID-19 dashboard reports 88.2% of students, faculty and staff across all campuses have received at least one dose of the vaccine. IU-Bloomington reports its campus is currently at 92.2%.
Carroll said the IU community's higher vaccination rate and lower hospitalizations are due to IU’s vaccine mandate implemented for the 2021 fall semester. In contrast, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has criticized the federal government for imposing similar measures upon Indiana.
“Cases went up during the week everyone came back to campus and classes started, but they’ve remained somewhat stable, nowhere near the levels of what we saw last year,” Carroll said. “That’s largely due to vaccination.”
A similar situation is unfolding at other schools throughout the Midwest.
Purdue University boasts a campus-wide vaccination rate of 82%, according to their COVID-19 dashboard. Purdue does not require students or employees to be vaccinated, but strongly encourages them to do so or otherwise submit to routine testing.
In the last week, 70 new cases were reported across Purdue’s campus out of a total campus population of 55,000. Additionally, most cases are classified as mild while fewer than 1% of cases are classified as significant.
In comparison, the IU COVID-19 dashboard reported 168 new cases across all campuses for students, faculty and staff out of a total campus population of 118,200.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign does not report vaccination statistics like IU or Purdue. However, the school is complying with a state-mandated vaccination requirement for all state employees and university students.
UIUC’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 121 new cases last week against a total student and employee population of 74,526 people. The dashboard also reports a positivity rate of 0.46% and an average 7 day positivity rate of 0.50%. This contrasts with the 4.92% positivity rate for all of Illinois, according to the Mayo Clinic.