Campus update: Plan ahead for Thanksgiving recess; preparations for potential surge; spring youth programs; self-reported testing data

Friday, November 6, 2020

Plan ahead for Thanksgiving recess

Thanksgiving recess begins Nov. 22, and while we are all looking forward to the opportunity for rest and relaxation, it is important that we all continue to be mindful of COVID-19. The decisions we make during this time will have the potential to impact our health and the health of others.

Make a plan to keep those around you healthy. Planning is especially important if you will see family and others who might be at higher risk for COVID-19 complications. While this planning may include getting a test, health experts emphasize that a negative test result may occur early in a COVID-19 infection. A negative test result does not guarantee that you are free of the virus, and you may still be able to spread the virus to others.

Student Health and University of Iowa Health Care are testing only those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are symptomatic. If you would like to get a test before you travel to visit friends and family but do not meet that criteria, locations such as Hy-Vee or Test Iowa may be able to provide one.

As you know, you could test negative one day after an unknown exposure and be sick (and contagious) the next day or during break. The incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to 14 days, meaning that after an exposure, you could start showing symptoms of illness and be contagious anytime in that timeline. Please keep this in mind as you consider travel plans and a potential return to campus. Maintaining the safe behaviors you have been practicing on campus will be key in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others.

To reduce the risk of spreading illness to friends and family, consider taking precautions in the 14 days before you travel:

  • Limit interactions and activities that increase your potential for exposure (hanging out with groups, going to bars or restaurants, etc.).
  • Wear your face mask.
  • Clean your hands often to prevent picking up viruses on your hands and introducing viruses and bacteria into your body.
  • Maintain social distancing. Your risk drastically increases if you hang out in groups or go to parties, bars, and restaurants where social distancing is not feasible or enforced.
  • Do everything you can stay healthy. Get a flu shot, get good sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage in stress management and self-care.

As a reminder, the university wants to know students’ plans for fall break (Nov. 21—Nov. 29) and for the virtual instruction and finals period from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. If you are a student, please take this one question survey and let us know your plans.

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics prepares for potential surge

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is ready to stay open, safe, and able to care for as many patients as possible in response to the continued increasing rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state.

In preparation for a potential surge, UI Health Care is adding intensive care unit beds to accommodate statewide transfers, additional services for local COVID testing, and more staffing to respond to a record number of patient calls. To put the plan into effect, UI Health Care is making a number of operational changes, such as reassigning staff to other areas, modifying its staff quarantine process, and slightly decreasing clinical volumes, as needed.

UI Health Care also is implementing additional safety measures to safeguard staff and patients, including additional visitor limitations to reduce the number of people in its facilities, and expanding work from home for non-clinical frontline staff. More information will be provided to patients ahead of the changes, which are expected to be in place no later than Nov. 16 and continue through Jan. 3, 2021.

Patients are encouraged to keep their appointments, as the added capacity and staff reassignments are designed to keep UI Health Care services open. Anyone who needs to be rescheduled or changed to a telehealth appointment will be contacted by UI Health Care in advance of their visit.

Spring 2021 youth programs

After considering the health and safety of program participants, UI students, faculty, and staff, the University of Iowa has made the difficult decision that it will not offer spring semester in-person youth programs from Jan. 1 through May 14, 2021. Youth programs include, but are not limited to, academic programs, research, sports camps, and wildlife camps.

Departments that want to conduct virtual programs for minors must follow the guidance laid out in the University’s Minors on Campus Policy, including registering a program by following this link in UI Workflow. Additionally, programs should refer to the Online Youth Programs Manual for specific requirements regarding virtual programming

Exception requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To request an exception, please contact the Office of the Provost at

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Nov. 4, 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: 50
  • Semester-to-date: 2,273


  • New cases: 10
  • Semester-to-date: 137

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: 1*

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.