NU presents aggregate COVID-19 vaccination, testing statistics during Faculty Assembly


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Students stand in line to get tested at the Donald P. Jacobs Center, one of Northwestern’s testing sites. The University reported a 98% COVID-19 vaccination rate and a steady positivity rate at a Faculty Assembly meeting.

Angeli Mittal, Design Editor

Vice President for Operations Luke Figora presented COVID-19 statistics for Northwestern at Tuesday’s Faculty Assembly meeting, using aggregated data from the start of Fall Quarter.

About 98% of students, faculty and staff on campus are vaccinated against COVID-19, Figora said. This leaves around 620 community members with valid exemptions to the requirement, which could relate to medical concerns, religious conflicts and issues of access, particularly for international students.

Those non-compliant with COVID-19 vaccination or testing policies were unable to register for classes and unable to partake in campus activities, per University guidelines. The University estimates it will issue fewer than 50 mid-term suspensions for non-compliance.

Figora also presented testing statistics aggregated since August. A total of 457 out of more than 58,000 tests were positive, resulting in an overall positivity rate of 0.79%. The University currently averages five to six positive tests per day, though NU observed a spike of 13.86 average cases per day after Wildcat Welcome. This number also includes surveillance testing results, though, which are secondary tests for individuals to confirm their positive results.

The University reports the number of positive tests on a weekly basis, but the meeting was the first time NU discussed the number of individuals on campus with COVID-19 on a given day. Figora reported there are on average 50 to 60 people who have COVID-19 or have tested positive within the last 10 days.

Although the weekly positivity rate has been relatively consistent, Figora said compared to last year’s numbers, the number of contact-traced individuals has increased from an average of two to three people per positive case last year to 30 to 50 per positive this year.

Figora said these numbers signify a strong start to the quarter, especially as the University has relaxed guidelines and reopened facilities.

“In many ways, we’re finding that this term is even more challenging than, to some degree, last year,” Figora said. “We’re operating in a world now where there’s effectively no public health guidance or local political restrictions … and the world around us is open.”

NU intends to continue on-campus activities after Thanksgiving and mentioned that students will be heavily advised to test on campus before and after the break.

The University has made at-home testing kits available to the NU community at the Donald P. Jacobs Center and at 345 E. Superior St. in Chicago. More than 300,000 of these tests have been distributed in the past few months. Figora said students are encouraged to utilize them before arriving back on campus at the end of November.

Unlike some other universities that have limited access to their testing facilities this year, Figora said NU has prioritized making testing accessible. Students, faculty and staff on the Evanston Campus can access testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays at the Jacobs Center.

“Anyone can come in and get (tested) as frequently as they want — no appointments, no cost,” Figora said. “We want to remove any access barriers to that.”

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