UVA reports 36 cases of COVID-19 among students ahead of return to grounds

University of Virginia students and staff are set to return to grounds the first week of September, but not before submitting a mandatory COVID-19 test.
Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 at 1:24 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - University of Virginia students and staff are set to return to grounds the first week of September, but not before submitting a mandatory COVID-19 test. Now, those numbers are coming to the forefront.

UVA Spokesperson Brian Coy confirmed Monday, August 24, that out of 13,000 test results, 36 students tested positive for coronavirus. That is about a 0.28% positivity rate. “It’s encouraging that it’s a small number of cases,” he said.

Coy says all positive cases will be asked to self-isolate at home and will not be automatically cleared to return.

“Per CDC recommendations, students should self-isolate for 10 days after the date of a positive test or for 10 days after the development of symptoms (whichever is longer), resolution of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and improvement of symptoms,” states UVA’s protocol.

Coy says, so far, the university is only providing the first COVID-19 test for students. It will not supply a second COVID-19 test kit for those students who tested positive. Once the self-isolation is complete and symptoms subside, students will be cleared to return.

“We’re providing the first test,” Coy said. “It is possible for the student to get a second test but right now we’re asking them to isolate.”

UVA is still anticipating more test results.

“We’re hitting up towards nearly three quarters of the tests that we’re expecting to receive back so I think we’re...it’s right about 20. There are still some folks who are signing up,” Coy said.

The university hired Let’s Get Checked to provide free at-home testing for students. All students were strongly encouraged to use this third-party vendor, but it wasn’t mandatory. Students could choose to get tested another way, though they would then be required to pay for it themselves and submit the results to UVA Student Health.

In addition to testing, all UVA students are also strongly encouraged to self quarantine for two weeks.

“We’re also asking them to quarantine before they come so that they’re reducing the opportunities to contract the virus before they come to grounds,” Coy said.

As Dean of Students Allen Groves warned in a video to the student body, once a student is on grounds, they can expect severe consequences for those who put others at risk.

“A suspension for violating these required public health norms will be immediate and for the full semester at a minimum,” Groves said.

In the video, Groves also outlined many clear rules that are mandatory for anyone returning for in-person instruction. Students are required to wear masks at all times on grounds and maintain six feet of distance, inside or outside.

There is also a strict limit on gatherings. UVA is mandating that students do not get together in groups larger than 15 people.

“Know that we are very firm on this number,” Groves said. “No more than 15, on grounds or off, inside or outside...These things are non negotiable and essential to keep everyone healthy and safe.”

The deadline to cancel residential housing contracts with UVA is Monday, August 24.

Moving forward, UVA plans to launch a new portal this week where people can view the amount of COVID-19 cases within the UVA community on a dashboard.

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