Monday, October 19, 2020

Face masks and carbon dioxide

In this video, Dr. Greg Schmidt, intensive care specialist at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, explains face masks, droplets, and carbon dioxide.

Reminder: Revised face covering policy

The University of Iowa is revising its COVID-19 policies in order to align with updated guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Effective Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, the university will no longer allow gaiters or face shields (when worn without a mask) as appropriate face coverings.

Students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear face masks in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office or your residence hall room. Masks should be worn outside when social distancing is not possible.

Appropriate face coverings now include:

  • Cloth mask
  • Disposable mask

Students, faculty, and staff may wear face shields for additional protection so long as they are worn with a face mask.

*Instructors may wear a face shield in certain situations where instruction requires an unobstructed view of faces and in situations requiring student accommodations. In these instances, instructors will need to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from those they are instructing.

NOTE: UI Health Care has separate face covering guidelines due to patient care. For full personal protective equipment requirements for UI Health Care staff, see The Loop.

Campus Health Officer Dr. Dan Fick explains the updated requirements in this video.

The CDC cautions that the effectiveness of gaiters and face shields is unknown at this time, so the university is updating its face covering requirements in order to lower the risk of transmission.

Update: When to quarantine

The Iowa Department of Public Health recently announced that quarantine is no longer recommended if both the individual with COVID-19 and their close contacts were wearing appropriate face coverings consistently and correctly during their contact. The change applies to business, education, and child care settings. It does not apply to household or health care settings.

Johnson County Public Health has implemented this guidance and will continue to partner with the university on contact tracing. University data do not show evidence of transmission in the classroom, where face coverings are required. We do not expect the revised guidance to have a significant impact on the number of individuals at Iowa required to quarantine.

These updates highlight the importance of wearing appropriate face coverings for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and make clear that specific face coverings are more effective in lowering the risk of transmission.

Campus operations

Thank you for doing your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community. Please continue to avoid the three Cs: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact. And remember to follow the three Ws: wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.

Seven-day rolling average chart for self-reported UI data

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Oct. 16, 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: 11
  • Semester-to-date: 2,086


  • New cases: 5
  • Semester-to-date: 75

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: 0*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 3**

*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.