Friday, October 30, 2020

Celebrating Halloween safely during COVID-19

In this video, Dr. Melanie Wellington, infectious disease specialist and associate hospital epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, provides her expert opinion on how families can stay as safe as possible during Halloween festivities.

Campus operations

The university continues to monitor self-reported COVID-19 testing data on campus, while also tracking state, region, and national COVID-19 infection rates. The increased cases and hospitalizations across the state are beginning to impact Johnson County. While our campus experienced a plateau in September, there has been a gradual increase in the number of positive cases among students over the past ten days. While data and contact tracing continue to show that the spread of the disease is not occurring in UI classrooms, our campus must remain dedicated to the practices that help to reduce transmission:

  • Wear masks
  • Maintain social distance
  • Avoiding gathering in large groups

If necessary, the university will consider additional actions in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Oct. 28, 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: 19
  • Semester-to-date: 2,168


  • New cases: 9
  • Semester-to-date: 100

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. These data will not match data reported by 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: 3*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 8**

*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.

Reminder: Support the Hawkeyes safely

This Saturday marks the first home football game of the season. Though this is an exciting time for many of us, we would like to remind you of some of this year’s unique policies.

As you are likely aware, fans are not allowed in the stadium for home games and tailgating will not be allowed. In addition, all coaches and athletes are required to abide by Big Ten Conference and NCAA rules, which include routine testing, mask requirements, temperature screenings for people who work game day operations, and making additional masks and hand sanitizer widely available. The university has coordinated with Johnson County Public Health for all home football game operations.

All students are expected to follow the expectations outlined in the student agreement. Failure to follow these guidelines may be addressed through the Office of Student Accountability.

So, when you gather to cheer on the Hawkeyes, please be mindful to do so with the members of your small campus “family unit,” as outlined here. Remember that you are subject to the guidelines of the university regardless of your proximity to campus, per the Code of Student Life. While your residence may be off campus, your actions off campus impact the ability for the university to continue in-person operations as well as the health and safety of the UI and Iowa City communities.

For ideas on how to support the Hawkeyes safely, check out these tips from University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, including:

  • Wear a mask. Regardless of where you watch or who you watch with, remember to wear a mask. The only exception is watching at home with people from your household. Be aware that shouting and cheering produce more aerosols/droplets.
  • Don’t share food. We encourage you to stick to your food choices and traditions—they're among the best parts of football season. But avoid sharing food and instead create individual servings. Individual servings allow people to pick up their food and go to a safe place to eat rather than gathering around a shared food source. Wash your hands before any meal preparation. Be extra cautious when taking off your mask to eat or drink, and make sure you are at least 6 feet from others, preferably in a ventilated space.
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces such as bars and restaurants. Try watching the game from your home instead. It’s safer (and cheaper).
  • Limit groups to 10 or less. If you’re watching the game with others, make sure to keep gathering sizes small—no more than 10. If members of your group are from outside your household, mask up, have plenty of room for social distancing, and choose a well-ventilated area.
  • Move the TV. If hosting, try moving the TV outside or to a well-ventilated area.
  • Consider a virtual option. Try setting up a Zoom or FaceTime call with friends to watch together virtually.