Boise State coronavirus cases surge to a pandemic peak

Two weeks into fall semester, Boise State University is facing a record number of new coronavirus cases.

Boise State reported 127 new cases for the seven-day period ending Thursday — as a coronavirus surge continues to unfold at Idaho’s largest university.

Last week’s case count was 56.

For the week ending Aug. 19 — before the start of fall classes — the case count was 19.

The current case numbers also represent a pandemic peak. In 2020-21, case numbers crested in mid-November, with a one-week total of 121.

The spiraling case numbers come as Boise State administrators have sounded the alarm about prospects for face-to-face classes and campus events.

“If campus infection rates continue to increase, we likely will face temporary, rolling closures, which may mean shifting face-to-face classes online or to hybrid mode, suspending or cutting back some campus-based services, delaying or canceling large gatherings, performances and athletic events, and temporarily returning to remote work,” President Marlene Tromp and other administrators said in a Wednesday email to the campus community.

Classes began Aug. 23, with a mask requirement for indoor public facilities and crowded outdoor areas. The university cannot mandate vaccines for staff or students, but administrators are urging vaccines as a way of slowing the spread.

The bulk of the new cases involve students — 76 living off-campus and 42 living on campus. The remaining nine cases involve staff or faculty.

In another troubling metric, 8.4 percent of campus COVID-19 tests came back positive, up from nearly 6 percent the previous week. Health experts say a positivity rate of more than 5 percent suggests an outbreak that is out of control.

Boise State maintains 90 isolation beds for COVID-positive students; 39 beds were in use Friday.

Kevin Richert

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 "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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