coronavirus illinois

At Least 16 Illinois Schools Report Higher Proportions of Coronavirus Cases Than Bradley, Which Already Moved to Remote Learning

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Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, on Tuesday ordered a two-week quarantine for all students and temporarily switched to remote learning after at least 27 new coronavirus cases were reported on campus since students began to return for the fall semester.

Data shows that at least 16 other colleges and universities in Illinois have higher proportions of coronavirus cases on campus, adjusted for enrollment - but haven't taken the same measures of halting in-person instruction and requiring students to isolate.

And that figure is only taking into account the schools that report their cases. Of the 62 colleges and universities in Illinois, 15 don't clearly post information online about any potential outbreaks - meaning the number of cases at schools across the state could be much higher.

NBC 5 Investigates is tracking cases at more than 250 colleges, universities and historically black colleges and universities most attended by Illinois students, including all schools within the state.

At colleges and universities within Illinois, more than 4,101 cases have been reported as of Thursday - though that total is likely higher. When adjusted for population - dividing the number of new cases reported by each institution's enrollment - Illinois State University in Normal has the highest proportion of infections of all schools in the state.

Per the university's online coronavirus dashboard, at least 1,331 cases of coronavirus have been reported in recent weeks at Illinois State University, where classes began on Aug. 17. With 20,635 students, the number of cases amounts to roughly 6.5% of the student body.

Videos surfaced on social media Wednesday with the location tagged as ISU, appearing to show a large crowd of young people packed closely together, screaming and drinking.

The university tweeted a response to someone who tagged the school's account to notify them of the video, saying, "This was an off-campus party that was eventually dispersed by local police. The University does not condone the behavior. The administration is investigating the incident and looking into disciplinary action against students who attended the party."

While ISU's president announced last month that many courses would be held in online formats, some remain face-to-face or hybrid instruction, unlike at Bradley.

Illinois Wesleyan University in neighboring Bloomington ranks second of schools in the state that report cases, adjusted for enrollment. While the school has reported far fewer than Illinois State and others - 83 cases total - the school is small, with just 1,636 students. That means the number of reported cases equates to just under 5% of the total student body.

Third on the list is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has the highest number of reported cases in the state. It also has the largest student body, with more than 50,000 enrolled.

U of I also pioneered the use of a new saliva-based coronavirus test to conduct thousands of tests each day in an effort to more quickly identify and isolate cases before the virus spreads. That new testing method has enabled the university to conduct more than 250,000 tests since July, ramping up once the new test was approved in mid-August.

Below is the list of colleges and universities in Illinois that publicly post coronavirus data and have reported a higher proportion of cases on campus than Bradley, with the number of cases listed and the percentage those cases represent of the school's total enrollment.

  • Illinois State University: 1,331 cases, 6.45%
  • Illinois Wesleyan University: 83 cases, 4.95%
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: 1703 cases, 3.43%
  • McKendree University: 58 cases, 2.32%
  • Eureka College: 13 cases, 2.29%
  • Eastern Illinois University: 142 cases, 1.89%
  • Millikin University: 36 cases, 1.72%
  • Western Illinois University: 98 cases, 1.15%
  • Northern Illinois University: 158 cases, 0.98%
  • Greenville University: 11 cases, 0.97%
  • Southern Illinois University at Carbondale: 97 cases, 0.76%
  • Rockford University: 9 cases, 0.75%
  • North Central College: 20 cases, 0.68%
  • North Park University: 18 cases, 0.62%
  • Lincoln College: 6 cases, 0.59%
  • National Louis University: 35 cases, 0.59%
  • Bradley University: 27 cases, 0.46%

These cases are just a fraction of the nearly 50,000 cases that have been reported at more than 250 colleges and universities in recent weeks as students return to campuses while the pandemic rages on.

NBC 5 Investigates is only looking at cases that have arisen during the fall, purposely excluding cases that occurred on campuses in the spring and summer, in order to concentrate solely on how the pandemic spreads as students return for this semester.

You can use the tool below to see the number of coronavirus cases each school has reported, sorting by school, cases and more, or searching for a particular term (like Illinois or Indiana) to narrow down specific schools. This tool will be updated each evening.

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