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Required UW Testing Finds 42 COVID Cases; Survey Indicates Strong Majority Vaccinated

August 23, 2021

A total of 42 University of Wyoming students and employees so far have tested positive for COVID-19 in required testing to start the fall semester, with a test positivity rate of 1.19 percent.

Additionally, an anonymous survey conducted during the five-day testing program found that 66 percent of students and 88 percent of employees said they’d been vaccinated, a much higher percentage than indicated by self-reporting to UW’s Student Health Service and Human Resources.

“We’re encouraged by the results of this one-time testing event and the related survey on vaccination,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “While the numbers are incomplete, they show that we’re beginning the semester in conditions that will allow us to proceed with in-person classes and activities. We’re counting on those who’ve tested positive and those with whom they’ve had contact to isolate and quarantine as required by the state. Those who haven’t yet been vaccinated and are medically able should strongly consider doing so. And everyone should adhere to our indoor mask requirement to start the semester and follow basic health guidelines, such as staying home when you’re sick, so that we keep our infection numbers under control.”

A total of 9,296 students and employees were tested Wednesday through Sunday. Students and employees who weren’t able to be tested during that window will receive emails directing them to schedule testing appointments this week to provide a more complete picture of UW’s COVID-19 status. The testing is required of all students and employees who’ll spend any time on campus this fall.

As of today (Monday), there are 70 active cases of COVID-19 among the UW community -- 45 students off campus, 18 students on campus and seven employees. Some of the on-campus students have decided to isolate at home before returning to UW.

A much more limited testing program, also for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, will resume the week of Aug. 30. Under that program, on a weekly basis, a random sample of 3 percent of the UW community will receive emails directing them to be tested. This diagnostic testing will take place at the Crane-Hill Dining Center. Employees and students can opt out of random-sample testing if they will not be on campus for the week; have been diagnosed with COVID within the last 90 days; or are sick or in quarantine.

Also as of today, 2,192 of UW’s total 2,897 total benefited employees -- 75.7 percent -- have reported through the HCM that they’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine. Adding in nonbenefited employees, some of whom are students, 3,410 of UW’s 6,129 total employees – 55.6 percent -- have reported receiving at least one dose. Also as of today, 3,727 individual students have reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID vaccine on the Student Health Service portal -- up from 3,216 one week ago (Aug. 16).

The anonymous survey conducted during the testing program found that 4,402 students, or 66 percent of those who took the survey, said they’d been vaccinated. Of the employees who took the survey, 1,789 said they’d been vaccinated, or 88 percent.

“We had a good idea that many of our students and employees haven’t reported their vaccinations, and the survey indicates that’s indeed the case,” Seidel says. “We strongly encourage everyone to not only be vaccinated, but to also report their vaccinations.”

At this stage, the university continues to highly encourage (but not mandate) the COVID vaccine for faculty, staff and students, in concert with a directive from Gov. Mark Gordon. Vaccines are widely available for free in the community, including the Pfizer vaccine, which has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for those 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines also have been proven to be highly effective and safe.

Once vaccinated, faculty, staff and students have been asked to report it -- to allow the university to track overall vaccination numbers. For employees, a quick reference guide has been created to help report vaccinations within UW’s HCM. Students who receive their COVID-19 vaccinations should upload documentation to the Student Health Service patient portal by taking photos of their vaccination documents and uploading the pictures here: http://patientportal.uwyo.edu, using their regular UW user ID and password. Alternatively, students can report their vaccinations by emailing photos of their vaccination documents to Student Health at studenthealth@uwyo.edu.

Those who report vaccinations become eligible for weekly prize drawings. The information is not being used for any other purpose, except to enter those who’ve reported their vaccinations into the drawings for prizes. The university’s privacy protocols are being followed.

COVID-19 vaccines are available for free at Walmart, Walgreens, Pole Mountain Pharmacy, Ridley’s, Stitches Acute Care, Laramie Pediatrics, Albany Community Health Clinic, Ivinson Medical Group, the Downtown Clinic and Family Physicians of Laramie.

The latest statistics on UW’s current COVID case numbers and vaccinations will continue to be available at www.uwyo.edu/alerts/campus-return/covid-dashboard.html.

More information about UW’s COVID-19 response can be found at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. Those with questions about testing and other COVID-19 issues may call (307) 766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.

Questions specifically about the vaccine should be emailed to COVIDVX@uwyo.edu. A UW vaccine webpage has been established at www.uwyo.edu/alerts/campus-return/vaccination.

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