With students returning to campus and starting to settle in, Loyola currently has a 0.59% 7-day positive case rate among on-campus COVID-19 testing.
Loyola students and faculty are required to be fully vaccinated to live and work on campus. Individuals are required to wear masks in all public settings, and take other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, The Phoenix reported. Despite this, COVID-19 cases have shown up on campus.
According to the Loyola COVID-19 Testing Dashboard, there has been a 1.32% positivity rate in Loyola-provided tests since Aug. 24.
“There is not a set threshold in place when it comes to COVID-19 positivity rates within our community,” said Anna Shymanski Zach, spokesperson for the University. “If needed, there are a number of increased mitigation efforts the university can deploy to further slow the spread of COVID-19 within our community.”
She said Loyola also continues to follow “city and state health guidance, which ultimately determines whether or not we can remain on campus.”
There was a spike in positive cases the week after students returned to campus after being gone for Labor Day, Sept. 6. Sept. 8 saw the most recorded number of COVID-19 cases. A total of 26 cases were reported with 4.8% of tests administered that day coming back positive.
Since then, positive case rates have seen a decline, though fewer tests are being administered.
Since Aug. 24, 8,768 individuals have taken surveillance tests on campus, accounting for about 96% of testing data. 390 individuals have taken diagnostic tests since the same date.
The dashboard, however, doesn’t list reports from any private, non-Loyola testing services. Positive results from those sites should still be reported immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org, said Shymanski Zach.
“The tests that we can reliably and timely report on are tests that we perform,” said Lanay Samuelson, assistant director of the Wellness Center.
She explained that self-reported outside results would require the dashboard to be updated manually. It would also need to be backdated sometimes to several days in the past, depending on when an individual tested positive and then reported their result.
“Most importantly, the dashboard is looking at a percentage based on positive and negative results,” Samuelson said. “If people only turn in positive results from outside testing, we are missing the true average as we do not know how many negatives were also completed in that time frame.”
Getting tested isn’t mandatory for vaccinated students, The Phoenix reported. However for those who do get tested at Loyola, two types of testing are available — surveillance and diagnostic.
Surveillance testing is for individuals not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Diagnostic testing is testing for those currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If a student is feeling symptoms of COVID-19, they should make an appointment with the Wellness Center for a diagnostic test, according to the university’s COVID-19 Updates website.
The dashboard also indicates that diagnostic testing has found a higher percentage of positive test results, with 12 since students first moved onto campus, Aug. 24. While a greater number of students use surveillance testing, a smaller percentage of positive cases has been found from surveillance testing, accounting for 110 of the 122 positive results since Aug. 24.
“We’re grateful to see the low positivity rate within our community at this time,” said Shymanski Zach. “We thank our students, faculty and staff for doing their part in helping to keep one another safe.”
If a student receives a positive test result and does not report it, or if they fail to self-isolate for the minimum of ten days, they could be referred to the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) for violating policy, Shymanski Zach told The Phoenix.