Weekly Briefing, February 25, 2021

The seven-day positivity rate is 0.2% for employees and 0.7% for students. Since Feb. 18, 295 university members have tested positive out of more than 47,000 tests; 336 tested positive the week before.

The majority of recent positive cases have been identified among both off- and on-campus students. We’re seeing cases of students testing positive after interacting with others who live within their residence hall or apartment building. This highlights the need to wear masks outside your room or apartment unit.

Although cases have decreased recently on campus, community spread remains high. It is critical that all members of our community consistently follow public health requirements: test regularly; wear a two-layer (or greater), well-fitting face covering; avoid gatherings; and clean hands frequently.

All students and staff must have a green Badger Badge to enter campus buildings, except to receive a test, pursue care at University Health Services or to be vaccinated. Plan ahead to receive a test in time, allowing enough time to receive test results. All undergraduates living in central Madison must test regularly even if they do not need to enter campus buildings. Find more information on how to get tested and new testing requirements.

It’s important to understand that any diagnostic test performed in populations with a low disease prevalence will yield some false positive results. The PCR test for COVID-19 is the most specific test available for infection, minimizing the number of false positives to the extent possible. This is true for both our saliva and nasal swab PCR tests, whose false positive rates are very low but not zero. We are currently reviewing all of the campus test data with an eye toward ensuring public health while minimizing the impact of false positive results. To stop the spread of COVID-19, you must treat a positive result seriously and isolate yourself; your close contacts also must quarantine.

University Health Services continues to provide COVID-19 vaccines to eligible groups, including those who perform direct patient service duties and individuals over age 65. Vaccine supplies remain extremely limited across the state. As more individuals become eligible for vaccination on campus, please keep an eye on your university email for more information. For more information about vaccination on campus, check UHS and the Covid Response site for updates.

Chancellor Blank’s order that requires wearing masks indoors, as well as outdoors except when exercising and maintaining six feet from others, remains in effect.

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