Only 3 positive tests out of more than 4,000 last week, Stanford dashboard shows

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Of the 4,775 undergraduate and graduate student tests administered the week of Sept. 21, the latest recorded week, only three tests returned a positive result, according to the University’s COVID dashboard.  

As Stanford reopens for all graduate students and undergraduates with special circumstances, Vaden Health Center is regularly updating the dashboard to track new cases, report the number of tests taken and analyze the positivity rates at Stanford, in Santa Clara County and in the state of California. The dashboard’s establishment was announced by Provost Persis Drell in a Sept. 14 message to the University community. 

The testing for faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows has been calculated separately. For the week of Sept. 21, 1,218 tests were conducted among this cohort, returning just one positive case. Since the inception of the testing system, 4,448 tests (173 faculty, 963 postdoc and 3,312 staff) have been administered with six positive cases, all among staff members. These numbers constitute a cumulative positive testing rate of 0.13% for faculty, staff and postdocs, which is on par with undergraduates’ positivity rate of 0.14%.

Santa Clara County’s testing currently has a positivity rate of 5.60%, while California’s is 3.13%. 

“We are gratified by the low prevalence of COVID-19 among the current cohort of students who are living on campus or who are coming onto campus,” wrote Vaden Health Center director Jim Jacobs in a statement to The Daily. 

Jacobs said the numbers indicate that measures instituted by the University and county have been effective in suppressing the virus. Plans for testing during winter break and winter quarter are under consideration.

Beyond testing, the University is also enforcing social distancing guidelines, according to University spokesperson E.J. Miranda. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily that he and fellow administrators are “emphasizing educational and restorative interventions and asking students to speak to one another about their concerns.”

Stanford’s policies outline that all students living on campus and all students who live off campus but are coming to campus frequently are required to participate in weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19. Faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows may partake in optional testing if they are approved to work on-site, report to Stanford’s campus or Stanford Redwood City at least once a week and self-report their health conditions using the online tool Health Check

Audrey Pe ’24, an international student currently living on campus, applauded the University’s testing practices, adding that the frequent tests allow her and her suitmates to not wear masks in their shared living space and “keep each other accountable.”

Pe has occasionally referenced the dashboard: “I’ve only used it in conversations with my parents regarding the number of cases on campus,” she said. “The results do keep me in the loop about the cases. I appreciate the transparency present in publishing the number of tests and their results.” 

Emma Wang ’24, who also lives on campus, said she was not aware of the COVID-19 dashboard before being contacted by The Daily, but she found it informative upon seeing it for the first time. 

“I definitely didn’t know that there was a COVID case on campus, so in that sense it is useful,” Wang said. “It’s also comforting in the sense that it’s evidence that Stanford is taking COVID really seriously; that and all the other precautions on campus right now.” 

After moving from her hometown of Beirut, Lebanon to campus, Tiffany Saade ’24, who also writes for The Daily, said she finds the public health guidelines helpful in creating a needed sense of security. 

“Being a resident on campus for the fall quarter, I feel safe, something I haven’t been in a long time due to the fear of the pandemic, contamination, social distancing and the daunting instability in my beloved country,” Saade wrote in a statement to The Daily.

If public health conditions allow, Stanford plans to open campus for frosh, sophomores and first-year transfers on campus during winter quarter. 

“While the low number of students testing positive is encouraging, the state and county public health guidance will also play an important role in our decision-making as we work toward bringing our university community back to campus safely,” Miranda wrote.  

This article has been updated to include the latest dashboard data.

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