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Positive COVID-19 tests continue to decrease, campus quarantine housing nearly empty

Duke’s positive COVID-19 tests fell this week for the third week in a row, to numbers resembling the fall semester, and Duke’s spokesperson said Tuesday that the number of students in University quarantine housing has fallen significantly. 

The University announced Tuesday that 20 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of 22,738 tests conducted on 11,971 students, faculty and staff from Feb. 8 to Feb. 14. Of these positive results, 13 were from students and 7 were from faculty and staff. 

The total positivity rate was 0.09%, lower than the prior week’s 0.24% positivity rate. The number of cases is a little more than a third of the 56 positives reported the previous week, and less than a quarter of the 82 positives reported from Jan. 18 to Jan. 24.

There are currently nine people in Duke’s quarantine and isolation housing, down from a peak of between 80 and 90 two weeks ago, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, on Tuesday. 

Duke has about 300 beds set aside for quarantine and isolation housing in repurposed campus dorms, the Lodge at Duke Medical Center hotel, the JB Duke Hotel and the Avana apartments. This space is available to students living in Duke housing, while off-campus students must quarantine or isolate at home.

Schoenfeld said that the decrease in positive tests is a good sign, but that it is “perilous” for Duke to make decisions based on week-to-week changes in case numbers. 

“We’d much rather be where we are than where we were a few weeks ago,” he said. “We’re still in a global pandemic, with tens of thousands of new cases every day and people dying every day.” 

Only two weeks ago, administrators warned of possible new restrictions if cases did not decrease, including going completely remote. 

Breaking down the numbers

The positivity rate this week for students was 0.07%. Nine out of 92 students who were symptomatic or contact-traced tested positive, for a positivity rate of 9.8%. Four students tested positive out of 19,837 regular surveillance tests, for a positivity rate of 0.02%. Those 13 students were placed in isolation. 

Eighty-six students were placed into precautionary quarantine and 206 were released. Forty-four students were cleared from isolation.

The positivity rate for faculty and staff was 0.25%. One faculty or staff member tested positive out of 2,713 surveillance tests for a positivity rate of 0.04%. Six who were symptomatic or contact-traced tested positive out of 96 tests for a positivity rate of 6.25%. Twenty-five were cleared from isolation, 17 were placed in precautionary quarantine and 29 were released from quarantine.

Last week’s overall positivity rate was slightly lower than the final four weeks of the fall semester, which yielded positivity rates of 0.11%, 0.14%, 0.18% and 0.15% respectively. Likewise, the positivity rate for students between Feb. 8 and Feb. 14 matches the rate reported from Oct. 24 and Oct. 30.

As of Tuesday, there are 12 active cases among faculty and staff and 24 active cases among students.

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin was editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 116th volume.

Nadia Bey | Digital Strategy Director

Nadia Bey is a Trinity senior and digital strategy director for The Chronicle’s 118th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 117.


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