Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Vaccine update

In this video, Stevie Veach, clinical assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, explains how pharmacies across the state are preparing to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes more available.

Spring 2021 commencement ceremonies moving virtual

We are disappointed to announce that spring 2021 commencement is moving to a virtual format. We know how much these ceremonies mean to our students and their families. And while May seems a long way off, we feel it is the right decision to make now to maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community. Although we will not be able to celebrate in person, the university is committed to honoring our graduates and celebrating their achievements in a way that allows for participation from friends and family virtually.

We acknowledge the disappointment of our graduates who were unable to attend an in-person commencement ceremony in spring or fall 2020 due to the pandemic and planned to participate in May 2021. The university will reach out to these graduates regarding opportunities to be recognized at future in-person programs to celebrate their accomplishments.

The university will live-stream all of the spring 2021 virtual commencement ceremonies. Please sign up here to receive updates.

UI to begin COVID-19 wastewater testing pilot

The University of Iowa soon will begin testing wastewater to help monitor for an elevated presence of COVID-19 on campus. Though the pilot still is in the planning phase, the new testing program will first focus on residence halls and is intended to serve as a potential early warning for detecting COVID-19 clusters among the student population.

Existing research indicates people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 shed virus particles through their feces. Wastewater testing can help detect infections days before people become symptomatic or infections in those who are asymptomatic.

The pilot is a partnership between UI Facilities Management and Engie North America, Student Health, University Housing and Dining, the College of Public Health, and the State Hygienic Lab.

Once the pilot begins, State Hygienic Lab staff, with assistance from Facilities Management and Engie North America, will conduct the wastewater sampling and testing to monitor for an elevated presence of COVID-19. If test results indicate an increased presence of virus in a campus residence hall, a sample of students from the impacted building will be offered the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19. This follow-up testing will be voluntary, and students who participate will be offered both a nasal antigen test and a serology antibody test to determine if they have had a past COVID-19 infection. All students who test positive will follow existing protocols for self-isolation and quarantine.

Additional information will be shared with campus once the wastewater testing begins and as the pilot evolves.

COVID-19 variant confirmed in Johnson County

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently confirmed two cases of the U.K. COVID-19 variant (SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7.) in Johnson County.

Researchers believe this strain can be spread more easily than the original strain. The emergence of new variants in our state serves as an important reminder that we need to continue to protect ourselves by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance from others, washing our hands frequently, and avoiding indoor gatherings with others outside our household. Current COVID-19 vaccines are considered to be effective against the variant strain.

For more information, see the full release from IDPH and additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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 university will continue to follow the latest guidance from the CDC in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Johnson County positive cases

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Feb. 1, 2021.

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: 6
  • Total cases: 2,924


  • New cases: 6
  • Total cases: 424

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: 0**

*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.