KU confirms 12 new COVID-19 cases; percentage of symptomatic patients testing positive falls

photo by: Conner Mitchell/Journal-World

The University of Kansas’ cumulative COVID-19 case total has risen by 12 since the university last released data on Tuesday — by far the lowest uptick since the university began regularly sharing data.

KU has now confirmed 950 cases of the respiratory virus since its mass entry testing program began in early August, the school announced Friday afternoon. In COVID-19 testing conducted between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23, the university confirmed 41 cases of the virus from a total of 979 tests — a positive rate of only 4.2%. There is some overlap between the data released on Friday and the data released Tuesday, which covered dates between Sept. 14 and Sept. 20.

The mass entry testing has given way to more targeted testing of randomized population samples, close contacts of confirmed positive cases and those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, and KU estimates it has the capacity and supplies to test roughly 600 people per week.

Two key metrics of testing percentages also seemed to fall in Friday’s data update: the rate of symptomatic people testing positive, and the percentage testing positive in KU’s prevalence testing. The symptomatic percent positive rate, which has hovered between 25% and 30% in past updates, was at only 12.1% Friday after 11 people tested positive out of 91 orders for the nasal swab testing.

This metric does come with the caveat that some orders may not yet have confirmed results — KU recently said the turnaround time for results from swab tests was between three and seven days, so some of the results may not have come back in time to be recorded on the dashboard update.

The university’s prevalence testing also yielded fewer positive results than in past data updates. Out of 835 total tests, there were only 11 positive results — a positive rate of 1.3%.

Data from a new drive-thru test clinic in the parking lot of Naismith Hall, 1800 Naismith Drive, hadn’t changed much since Tuesday’s update. The clinic only operates Thursday through Saturday, so test results from this week were not yet available. The clinic so far has confirmed 22 COVID-19 cases out of 61 tests conducted.

Also on Friday, KU confirmed that the number of students in isolation or quarantine because of the virus had dropped. On Tuesday, there were 97 students either isolating or quarantining, and by Friday that number had dropped to 86 — 17 in isolation, meaning they have the virus, and 69 in quarantine, meaning they came in close contact with someone who tested positive.

The second iteration of KU’s short-term forecasting model predicted that the university’s daily total of new COVID-19 cases would fall to around six cases by Oct. 9, two weeks from Friday. The model also predicted that the cumulative case total would be roughly 975 cases on the same date. Last week, the model projected that the cumulative case count would be at 905 by Oct. 2, but that figure was eclipsed within a few days — Tuesday’s cumulative case count was 938.

Also on Friday, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod announced that the university would begin letting fans attend athletic events again. Girod said that for the next home football game, on Oct. 3 against Oklahoma State, roughly 10,000 fans will be allowed in the stadium.

Though the decision was made for a number of reasons, Girod said, the first was that “regional COVID-19 rates remain stable and in line with what we are prepared to manage.”

KU will next release COVID-19 testing data on Tuesday.

Contact Conner Mitchell

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