22 more cases of COVID-19 confirmed at KU; drive-thru test clinic for symptomatic patients sees uptick in use

photo by: Conner Mitchell/Journal-World

A social distancing sign sits at a bus stop on the University of Kansas campus.

The University of Kansas has confirmed an additional 22 cases of COVID-19 since it last released data Tuesday afternoon.

Kansas’ flagship university has now confirmed 1,031 total cases of the respiratory virus since its mass entry testing program began in early August. That program gave way to a more targeted strategy of testing those with COVID-19 symptoms, close contacts of confirmed positive cases and random samples of the university population.

Over the most recent seven-day period for which data is available — Oct. 1 to Oct. 7 — KU confirmed 41 cases of COVID-19 from a total of 1,058 tests, a positive rate of 3.9%. This data, however, overlaps significantly with the seven-day period covered by Tuesday’s update — Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 — and 22 of the 41 cases in Friday’s update were confirmed since Tuesday.

The number of students confirmed to be isolating or quarantining because of COVID-19, a metric which jumped significantly last week, fell in Friday’s update. After 29 students were in isolation — meaning they have the virus — in Tuesday’s update, only 21 were isolating Friday.

The number of students in quarantine — those who may have come into contact with the virus — remained at 68, so there are currently a total of 89 KU students in isolation or quarantine, down from 97 Tuesday.

In data from Watkins Health Center, the on-campus health care provider, the percentage of symptomatic patients testing positive for the virus dipped slightly from Tuesday’s update, in which 20.8% of symptomatic patients tested positive for the virus. On Friday, KU said 10 people tested positive out of 65 total orders for nasal swab tests, a positive rate of 15.4%.

This metric does come with the caveat that some swab orders might not yet have confirmed results. KU previously told the Journal-World that the average turnaround time for results from swab tests was between three and seven days, so some of the results might not have come back in time to be recorded in the public dashboard updates disseminated on Tuesdays and Fridays.

A relatively new drive-thru test clinic in the parking lot of Naismith Hall, 1800 Naismith Drive, saw a marked uptick in use recently, according to Friday’s update. During the seven-day period covered in Friday’s report, 17 people tested positive at the clinic out of 118 total tests conducted. For comparison, the week prior saw the clinic test only 35 total people, seven of whom tested positive.

The 118 drive-thru tests conducted in the past week accounted for more than half of the total tests the clinic has administered since it became available in mid-September. Overall, 50 people have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 210 total tests conducted at the site, a positive rate of 23.8%.

KU on Friday also released a new short-term forecast from its Pandemic Medical Advisory Team. As it has in each forecast so far, the university’s model projects that in two weeks — in this case, by Oct. 23 — KU’s daily case count will sit at around six new cases per day.

photo by: Screenshot/University of Kansas

A model projecting new COVID-19 case rates at the University of Kansas, current as of Oct. 9, 2020.

The forecast also projected that on Oct. 23, the cumulative case total at KU would be at around 1,070 cases. That model has lagged behind actual case totals since it was created, something KU Chancellor Douglas Girod has said can be attributed due to the unpredictable nature of modeling a novel virus.

KU will next release COVID-19 data on Tuesday.

Contact Conner Mitchell

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