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Duke’s COVID-19 positivity rate ticks up, remains lower than rates at UNC and NC State

After decreasing for three weeks in a row, Duke’s positive COVID-19 tests increased slightly in the period of time from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21. 

Out of 21,689 tests Duke conducted on students, faculty and staff during the week of Feb. 15, there were 14 positives among faculty and staff and 11 among students, according to data posted Tuesday on the University’s COVID-19 dashboard. The total of 25 positive tests is a slight increase from 20 positives the previous week. 

The total positivity rate, at 0.12%, was higher than last week’s rate of 0.09% but still only half of the total positivity rate of 0.24% from the week of Feb. 1. The rate is lower than what the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Duke’s local peer universities for which a positivity rate is available.

UNC reported 39 positive cases among students and 15 positive cases among employees from Feb. 15 to Feb. 22, according to its dashboard. Although there were 54 positive cases in total, only 32 were identified through Campus Health, the Carolina Together Testing Program or campus testing partners at the UNC Hospital Respiratory Diagnostic Center.

The overall positivity rate for UNC’s on-campus testing was 0.2%. Out of 13,144 tests given to asymptomatic students, 26 were positive for a rate of 0.2%. Of 390 tests given to asymptomatic employees, 2 were positive for a rate of 0.5%. Out of 103 tests administered to students that were symptomatic or contact traced, 4 were positive for a rate of 3.9%. 

As of Monday, there were three active clusters in UNC residence halls. Seven students were in quarantine and five were in isolation as of Monday. The overall positivity rate since Jan. 1 is 0.6%.

N.C. State reported 148 cases among students and 52 cases among employees between Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. There were 166 active cases among students and 55 active cases among employees as of Monday. Case numbers include positive results from Student Health Services and external testing sites. 

N.C. State’s dashboard contains a running total of all tests completed by Student Health Services since Jan. 1, but does not contain daily or weekly testing numbers. The Technician,  N.C. State’s student newspaper, reported at the beginning of February that 10,000 to 12,000 tests were administered per week, which would yield an estimated 1.67% to 2% overall positivity rate between Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. The overall positivity rate since January is 1.47%.

As of Monday, 17 people were in isolation on campus and 82 were in isolation off campus. Nineteen people were in quarantine on campus and 145 were in quarantine off campus. A cluster in the university’s Greek Village was reported Feb. 19.

North Carolina Central University reported on its dashboard 75 cases among students, 23 cases among employees and 4 cases among subcontractors between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23. NCCU does not report the total number of tests conducted, so a positivity rate can’t be calculated. 

Breaking down Duke’s data

Fourteen out of 2,712 tests conducted on Duke faculty and staff yielded positive results, giving a positivity rate of 0.52%. Twelve of those positive tests were from symptomatic or contact-traced individuals and the other two were from surveillance testing.

Out of the 11 positive student COVID-19 tests, five were from on students who were symptomatic or contact-traced and 6 were from surveillance tests. The total student positivity rate was 0.058%. 

Eighty-three students and 30 faculty and staff are currently in precautionary quarantine on or off campus. Twenty-one faculty and staff and 94 students were released from quarantine during the period from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21.  Eleven faculty and staff and 21 students were released from isolation this week.

At least six student cases were part of a cluster of graduate students that was connected to a Feb. 15 birthday party held at a Durham apartment complex.

A news release noted that the total number of tests was slightly lower than totals from previous weeks because testing was delayed until noon due to inclement weather on Thursday. 

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