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COVID-19 updates at Duke: Testing and quarantine numbers, isolation protocols, vaccination rates

Students got more information Friday on Duke's plan to test for coronavirus.
Students got more information Friday on Duke's plan to test for coronavirus.

Duke’s quarantine and isolation protocols have shifted with updated guidance, but less information is publicly available about the number of people in quarantine each week.

Duke reported 113 positive COVID-19 tests—95 among students and 18 among faculty and staff—from Aug. 16 to 22. The positivity rate was 0.6%. There were 111 active cases as of Monday afternoon. Over 90% of all students, faculty and staff are fully vaccinated, according to a Monday press release

Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh referred The Chronicle to the press release when asked what percentage of those who tested positive last week were vaccinated, but wrote that “the majority of individuals who have had positive tests have been fully vaccinated.”

According to Cavanaugh, there were 36 on-campus students in quarantine Monday morning.

On Aug. 13, shortly after two COVID clusters were identified at Duke, Cavanaugh confirmed in an email to The Chronicle that any student who tests positive is required to isolate for ten days and that contact tracing “continues to be one of the ongoing public health control efforts” at the University.

This continued to be the protocol for the 111 positive COVID-19 cases from Aug. 9 to 15, Cavanaugh clarified in another email to The Chronicle on Aug. 17. 

Students who live on campus and test positive are moved to isolation at either the Lancaster Apartments or the rooms Duke has secured at The Lodge at Duke Medical Center, two facilities that Duke has utilized over the past year. There are 150 spaces in these facilities for on campus students to isolate, Cavanaugh told The Chronicle Monday.

Students who live off campus are required to isolate themselves in their own place of residence.

Students who are identified by contact tracing are no longer required to quarantine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they will be “subject to more frequent testing for the period after their exposure,” Cavanaugh wrote. 

Approximately 90% of those that tested positive the week of Aug. 9 to 15 were vaccinated, per Cavanaugh. He added that the positive tests “were spread across those who were symptomatic and those that were identified by either entry or surveillance testing.”

Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, Duke showcased the number of people in quarantine on the testing dashboard. In May 2021, the dashboard was modified to not include this data, and it has remained the same since then. 

The Chronicle asked if the dashboard would return to the format used during the 2020-21 academic year or if information about the number of individuals in isolation and/or quarantine would be provided in a different way, to which Cavanaugh responded, “We are not planning on modifications at this point.” Thereby, the number of quarantined individuals will not be regularly available information this year.

All students are required to be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus activities for the fall semester unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. Faculty and staff must comply with the vaccination requirement by Sept. 1.


Madeleine Berger

Madeleine Berger is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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