Even with fewer on campus, student COVID-19 cases hit new weekly high

Jan. 5, 2021, 8:22 p.m.

Stanford reported 11 new student COVID-19 cases for the week of Dec. 28, and 14 among employees, including staff, faculty and postdocs. The weekly numbers are the highest so far for students and the second highest for employees. 

Over winter break, the number of student tests dropped from approximately 5,000 per week to just above 2,000, with the rise in cases indicating a rise in positivity rates. This increase comes days before students with special circumstances were welcomed back to campus, and a few weeks before frosh and sophomore students will be welcomed back to campus for winter quarter

In addition to 14 new positive staff, faculty and postdoc cases, 19 people tested positive through providers not facilitated by Stanford’s Occupational Health Center. Some of these outside tests “were performed earlier than last week and have just now been reported,” and they are not included in University testing count. 

Stanford’s decision to bring back half of its undergraduates has been met with concern among some students worrying that the decision to return to campus will endanger the surrounding community. Santa Clara County is currently subject to California’s regional stay-at-home order, and U.S. case numbers are reaching new highs following the holiday season. Some Stanford scientists are less concerned, saying the University’s plan to bring back students for the winter quarter is safe. However, they warn of the dangers of off-campus travel and potential “superspreader” parties. 

Stanford Health Care’s ICU has been operating at “above 100%” capacity over the holiday season. Hospitals’ capabilities across the county are also strained, with 96% of ICU beds occupied as of Jan. 5.

Stanford has not issued any additional updates to its winter quarter plans since its announcement in early December about the return of frosh and sophomores to campus.

Contact Nina Iskandarsjach at ninaisk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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