Campus COVID-19 Cases Decline Amid Increase in City of Chicago’s Risk Level

The latest UChicago Forward email reminded individuals with symptoms to stay home but mentioned no changes to University COVID-19 policies.


By Peter Maheras

The University reported 268 new cases of COVID-19 and 311 close contacts over the period of April 29 and May 5, according to a UChicago Forward email sent on Friday, May 6. The case count represents a decline of nearly 23 percent from the previous week, when the University reported 347 new cases and 395 close contacts.

Between April 28 and May 4, voluntary surveillance testing detected 41 new cases for a positivity rate of 5.77 percent. This represents a significant decline from the previous week’s positivity rate of 9.25 percent. There are 53 students isolating on campus and 166 students isolating off campus, down from 114 on campus and 217 isolating off campus last week.

As in previous weeks, the email cited social gatherings as the source of most new cases and reminded anyone experiencing symptoms to stay home. The University announced no changes to COVID-19 policies.

“The University’s [mask-optional] policy was adopted in consultation with experts at UChicago Medicine (UCM), and with consideration of public health guidance at the city, state and national levels,” the email read. “The University’s COVID-19 precautions, including masking policies, take into account many factors, including local case numbers and positivity rates, as well as trends in COVID-19 hospital admissions and our contact tracing team’s latest observations concerning transmission on campus.”

The email included a notice that Chicago’s Community Risk Level had been elevated to “medium.” According to Chicago’s citywide COVID-19 dashboard, the city’s positivity rate is currently at 4.4 percent. The city experienced a 16 percent increase in cases this week relative to last week, but cases remain well below earlier peaks. During the initial Omicron surge in early January, the city reported a rolling average of nearly 7,000 new cases each day. The city’s current rolling average is 788 cases per day.

The University said it would continue sending UChicago Forward updates “as needed.”

In last week’s UChicago Forward update, UChicago announced that it would limit voluntary testing to twice a week. According to the University, test results are typically released within 48 hours, so there would be “little diagnostic benefit” to additional testing within such a short period. The email reminded community members not to seek testing on successive days.

Additional reporting by Gustavo Delgado.