Iowa State has a new online source for campus COVID-19 test results as well as county- and state-level data provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The COVID-19: By the Numbers website includes the following campus data for the prior week:
- Positive results for symptomatic students tested at Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC)
- Total symptomatic tests conducted at TSHC
- Positivity rate for the prior week
- Total vaccine doses administered on campus
Iowa State's public health team will update the page every Wednesday. The page can be accessed from the COVID-19: Moving Forward website.
The campus data will look different from the data provided last spring and fall. Erin Baldwin, associate vice president for student health and wellness and director of Thielen Student Health Center, says the differences reflect changes to the university's public health infrastructure and testing strategies.
"The university's testing strategy this fall is focused on symptomatic students. As a result, we expect to see higher positivity rates at different points throughout the semester," Baldwin said. "This also means the primary campus data we have available is symptomatic testing for students at Thielen Student Health Center."
As the COVID pandemic has shifted, Iowa Department of Public Health guidance has transitioned to reduced case investigation and contact tracing. Accordingly, Iowa State is no longer providing case management and contact tracing or requiring all students, faculty and staff to self-report COVID-19 positive test results from off-campus sources. These processes provided additional sources of data that are no longer available.
Baldwin and Kristen Obbink, who continues to serve on the public health team after transitioning out of her full-time role as the university's COVID-19 public health coordinator, say it's important to look at the campus numbers along with the data from state and federal sources, which are available on the webpage. With the high level of transmission in Iowa and the likelihood of COVID-19 becoming an endemic, Obbink recommends getting the vaccine and wearing a mask to protect your health and others.
"As COVID-19 is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic, this means we'll never completely eradicate the virus," Obbink said. "With that in mind, we need to work on building immunity and the vaccine is the best tool we have to do that and limit the spread of the virus."
Testing options on campus
At-home COVID-19 test kits are widely available in the community and state. Students, faculty and staff can pick up a free test kit at the following locations:
- Thielen Student Health Center: front desk, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays except Wednesdays (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
- Memorial Union: information desk, second floor near Cardinal Room, staffed all MU hours
- Union Drive Community Center: mailroom, across from Clyde's, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, Saturdays 1-5 p.m.
- College of Veterinary Medicine: room 2270, office of academic and student affairs, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
More information about at-home testing is available from the Thielen Student Health Center, including nearby UPS sites for dropping off completed kits.
On-campus testing is available for symptomatic students through Thielen Student Health Center. McFarland Clinic also has testing options available.
Campus units are strongly encouraged to order cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and face coverings through Central Stores. While employees may find what they need online or from a local retailer, everyone benefits from purchasing centrally through:
- Power in numbers: Central Stores works closely with its vendors and can negotiate a better price by buying in bulk.
- Avoid scams: Demand is creating opportunity for scammers selling fake items or not fulfilling orders. The university has seen an increase in fraud, which can be avoided by working with Central Stores.
- Get the proper products: Environmental Health and Safety worked with Central Stores to ensure that the cleaning supplies offered are safe and effective for cleaning offices and labs. It's not necessary to buy name-brand products, and soap and water is a good alternative.