Graduate student COVID-19 case increase
November 10, 2020 9:56 AM

Dear graduate students,

We are entering another extremely dangerous period as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly in the state, with the state’s positivity rates reaching 11.4%. Cases are also increasing rapidly on our campus, with the campus seven-day case positivity rate rising from 0.12% in mid-October to 0.62% today. This is driven by the dramatic increase in the cases in East Central Illinois during this time period. From contact tracing, we can determine that this is not due to classroom or on-the-job transmission. We sent this message to undergraduates on Friday.

As of Nov. 6, graduate students had the lowest seven-day case positivity rate of any group on campus (0.46%) compared to undergraduates (0.7%). However, the graduate student case positivity rate has doubled since the last week of October.

I know that we all have pandemic fatigue, and this toll is weighing on all of us. However, we strongly believe this is a critically important time period for the safety of our entire community, and we need everyone to be more diligent than ever. I am asking that you take the following precautions beginning immediately as part of the Shield Surge plan:

Test Twice Per Week
If you are currently participating in the on-campus COVID-19 testing program, please increase your testing frequency from once per week to twice per week, testing on Wednesday and Saturday (ideally) or Wednesday and Sunday if possible. Please also test in the morning/early in the day if possible. Ensure you test and receive negative results at least every four days to maintain building access. Continue testing at this frequency until notified otherwise.

Work from Home if Possible
For the next three weeks, please plan to work from home unless your work requires you to be on campus. Our goal is to reduce campus density to protect those engaged in in-person instruction and other work that must be performed on-campus.

Participate in Essential Activities Only
For the next three weeks, stay home as much as possible, leaving only for essential activities, such as attending classes, work that must be performed on campus, COVID-19 testing, visiting the pharmacy and buying groceries.

Limit Travel & Gatherings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts tell us that gatherings and travel in and out of communities present a high risk of spreading the infection. In our current situation, with a rising prevalence in the surrounding regions, attending even small gatherings that mix households and traveling to and from the Champaign-Urbana area is not advised and is potentially dangerous. Please travel out of our community only if necessary. If you must travel, follow this travel guidance.

Thank you for your efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community and for continuing to do your part to protect us all. I am so proud to be a part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community.


Robert J. Jones

This mailing approved by:
Office of the Chancellor

sent to:
Graduate Students & Incoming Graduate Students
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