Campus coronavirus roundup, 12.14.20: Hitting the fall finish line

Northwest Nazarene University reached a pandemic-era finish line Thursday: the final day of fall face-to-face instruction.

And even before the final day of classes, NNU officials were celebrating.

“At the beginning of the summer, NNU had one primary objective and that was to allow students to safely return to campus for the entirety of fall semester,” President Joel Pearsall said in a news release issued Tuesday. “Our NNU community has worked together this semester to live into our ‘Community First’ pledge, implementing necessary health protocols to keep NNU healthy and open and thinking of others before self.”

Across the state — and with the state’s public four-year schools continuing their late-semester shift to online learning — campus coronavirus case numbers remained relatively low over the past week.

Here’s this week’s roundup.

Increasing rapidly (more than 100 percent)

Lewis-Clark State College. Numbers are down considerably from the face-to-face learning segment of fall semester. However, the seven active cases reported Friday are up from three cases the previous week. The college has reported 144 confirmed cases since Aug. 24. No students were in isolation. 

Increasing

Idaho State University. Case numbers climbed in the week after Thanksgiving break. ISU reported 36 probable and confirmed cases for a seven-day period ending on Tuesday, Dec. 8, compared to 25 cases the previous week. Still, the latest numbers represent a decrease from the final two months of face-to-face learning, which wrapped up before the holiday.

Twenty-four of the new cases involve students, and 33 occurred on the Pocatello campus.

ISU is investigating two case clusters: three cases tied to the Kasiska Division of Health Sciences, and two cases identified in an Office for Research unit.

BYU-Idaho. Another weekly increase, although numbers remain well below peaks from the fall. BYU-Idaho on Sunday reported 52 active student cases and five active employee cases. That’s up from a total case count of 52 active cases on Dec. 6.

Decreasing

NNU. Nine new cases last week, compared to 10 cases the previous week. Seven of the new cases involve students living on campus.

In all, NNU is tracking 12 active cases. On Thursday, 95 students and employees were under stay-at-home directives.

When it reopens on Jan. 12 for spring semester, NNU will again use rapid saliva testing as a centerpiece of its coronavirus containment strategy. The testing began in September.

“This new, more accessible, more affordable surveillance screening helps us to proactively monitor and assess the ongoing health of our campus community and provides for early identification of potential infection, often even before someone is showing symptoms,” said Dr. Bryon Hemphill, NNU’s director of health services.

Boise State University. A decrease, as fall semester wraps up online: Boise State reported 41 cases for the week ending Thursday, down from 76 cases the previous week.

Test positivity rates dropped to 1.8 percent, compared to 2.2 percent the previous week.

Twenty new cases involved students living off campus, five cases involved students living on campus and 16 involved employees.

Six of Boise State’s 153 isolation beds were occupied, up from five the previous week.

University of Idaho. Another weekly decrease: The U of I reported 14 cases for the seven-day period ending Dec. 4, down from 22 cases the preceding week.

The positive test rate fell to 4.7 percent, down from 5.5 percent.

“Wastewater testing shows an increase in concentration of the virus since Thanksgiving,” President C. Scott Green and Provost Torrey Lawrence said in a Dec. 7 memo to the campus community. “We strongly encourage those living on campus to get tested.”

College of Western Idaho. Fourteen people have self-reported cases to the college so far in December. By contrast, CWI received 49 reports for the month of November. Since Sept. 1, the case count stands at 112.

North Idaho College. Eighteen students and 10 employees self-reported a positive test last week, compared to 31 self-reported cases the previous week. Since July, 223 students and employees have reported a positive test.

College of Southern Idaho. Eight cases for the week ending Thursday, down from 16 cases the preceding week. Six of the new cases involved students, and six were tied to CSI’s Twin Falls campus.

College of Eastern Idaho. Five self-reported student cases and five staff cases last week, compared to 17 cases reported the previous week. Since Aug. 24, the college has reported a total of 141 cases involving students and employees.

Flat

The College of Idaho. Two new positive tests reported Friday, unchanged from the previous two weeks. No students were in isolation on campus, and one person was in isolation off campus. C of I has reported 83 positive COVID-19 tests for the semester. 

Check Kevin Richert’s blog each Friday for a weekly roundup of statewide coronavirus trends.

 

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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