Stanford reported 80 new COVID-19 cases among students and 29 new cases among faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars for the week of March 21, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.
Case counts have increased by 237% among students and decreased by 9% among employees compared to the week prior to spring break. According to the dashboard, 91 students are in isolation as of Monday. This number is higher than reports from the last four weeks, but fewer than reported at the beginning of winter quarter. The University attributed this uptick in cases to students returning to campus from spring break.
“We anticipated a rise in positive test results as students returned from spring break,” University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in an email to The Daily.
In a Monday email, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote that the University is “keeping a close eye on COVID as the presence of the BA.2 subvariant increases in many parts of the world.” Tessier-Lavigne also reminded members of the Stanford community that tests remain available for all students, faculty, staff and postdocs. He encouraged all individuals to take a test if they are feeling symptoms, concerned about exposure or returning from travel.
Miranda did not comment on whether Color tests provided by the University test for the variant or whether there are any contingency plans, such as changing testing policies or reinstating the mask mandate, if the BA.2 variant surges. 5,340 Color COVID-19 tests were administered during the week of March 21, which is a drop from the 7,442 tests administered during the prior week. These testing numbers do not include rapid antigen tests.
Stanford continues to provide students with Color COVID-19 tests and require weekly testing for vaccinated students and biweekly tests for unvaccinated students. The University plans to lift the testing requirement for fully vaccinated students on April 11.
Stanford’s seven-day positivity rate rose from 0.68% the week before break to 3.8% this week for students, and fell from 0.42% to 0.34% for employees. The seven-day positivity rate among students is greater than Santa Clara County’s 1.80% rate and California’s 1.30% rate for the first time in 2022.
Of the 29 new employee cases, 11 are included in the University’s testing count. The remaining 18 individuals tested outside the University’s surveillance testing system through rapid antigen tests or tested positive earlier than last week but just reported it to the University, according to the dashboard.
Peer institutions are experiencing various changes in student positivity rates. Harvard reported a decrease to a 0.84% positivity rate, and the University of California, Berkeley reported an increase to a 2% positivity rate. Stanford’s 3.8% positivity rate is above Harvard’s and Berkeley’s, which had spring breaks prior to Stanford’s.
A total of 2,549 students and 1,881 faculty, staff and postdocs have tested positive through Stanford’s surveillance testing system since June 29, 2020, according to the dashboard.