Wednesday, September 9, 2020

An Epidemiologist Explains: The Three Cs, and Three Ws

Dr. Jorge Salinas tells us what we should avoid (the three Cs) and what we should do (the three Ws) as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.


Campus operations update

As of Monday, Sept. 7, the University of Iowa has collected three weeks of self-reporting data of COVID-19 positive students, faculty, and staff. Similar to other college communities across the nation, the return of students brought an expected but disappointing increase in the number of positive cases.

Johnson County positive cases

What has occurred since the initial spike in late August is a plateau of self-reported positive cases, which coincides with the information reported by Johnson County Public Health. While it is certainly not time to celebrate, it should be acknowledged that, as a community, we have considerably slowed the spread of the disease.

The data also shows that the spread of the disease is not occurring in UI classrooms, as a total of 21 faculty and staff have self-reported as positive. With more than 12,000 employees, the number of positive cases represents an infection rate of less than 0.16%. The spread of the disease has been minimized in classrooms due to proactive steps the university has taken, such as:

  • Mandating face coverings
  • Instructor zones
  • Use of plexiglass
  • Changes in air filtration
  • Changes in traffic patterns in buildings

Another critical component in the decreased transmission of COVID-19 was the governor’s closing of bars in Johnson County at 5 p.m. on Aug. 27. The closure extends until Sept. 20.

Finally, the data illustrates that the increased spread of COVID-19 in the community has been confined primarily to the college-age population. The rate of positive tests outside of this age group remained consistent over the past three weeks in comparison to the previous three weeks.

While we expect new outbreaks may occur, we are confident the spread of the disease can be minimized if the University of Iowa and greater Iowa City community continues to follow public health guidelines.


University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

The data below reflects new cases since Sept. 7, 2020.

The University of Iowa has published an updated snapshot of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff, and students.

Number of self-reported cases of COVID-19


  • New cases: 52
  • Semester-to-date: 1,621


  • New cases: 1
  • Semester-to-date: 21

These numbers reflect only self-reported positive or presumed positive COVID-19 tests from UI faculty, staff, and students on the academic campus since Aug. 18, 2020. The data will not match data reported by the UI Hospitals & Clinics or by the Iowa Department of Public Health for several reasons, including different testing time intervals and geographic scope. Students who also are employees of the university are only reported in the student number to avoid double counting. The UI has more than 30,000 students and nearly 30,000 employees. Many employees continue to work remotely, but have self-reported to authorize sick leave.

Number of residence hall students in quarantine: 9*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 73**

*Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.

**Self-isolation: Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.


Resources for coping during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and incidents of racialized violence taking place across the country can take a toll on your mental health and emotional well-being. We remind students, faculty, and staff of the numerous resources available to help you manage and cope.


University Counseling Service (UCS) offers students the following mental health counseling and support options:


The UI Employee Assistance Program (EAP) supports employees and their families in coping and healing. The UI EAP offers confidential counseling, assistance and support for stress, conflicts, sleep difficulties, relationships and personal issues, family or parenting concerns, and more. Additionally, resources for managing change can assist with feelings of loss, grief, and loneliness. Please see our video library for additional resources for coping and healing from COVID.


Update: Housing contract release deadline extended

Housing and Dining has extended the deadline for room contract releases to accommodate students whose courses have shifted to an online format or who have expressed personal concern about COVID-19 and would prefer not to live in the residence halls at this time. The information below was shared with all students currently living on campus on Friday, Sept. 4.

Contract release requests

Students who are interested in a housing contract release for academic year 2020-2021 or deferral until spring 2021 will now have their request automatically granted until Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Move-out must be scheduled by Sept. 10 and completed no later than Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

To request a release or deferral, log in to the housing application portal and click “Application Cancellation” across the top. You will receive a confirmation email with next steps when the process is complete. The deadline to request a contract release without financial penalty is Sept. 10, 2020.

Room change requests

Students interested in a requesting a room change for fall 2020 may do so by logging into the housing application portal and selecting “Room Change Waitlist” across the top. Room change offers will begin on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.