Coronavirus at college

NBC 5 Investigates Finds Rising Coronavirus Rates Near Some Illinois Public Universities

Late Tuesday, the University of Notre Dame announced a switch to all-online classes after reporting a spike in coronavirus cases among students. Now, NBC 5 Investigates has found that rates are already on the rise in the neighborhoods and zip codes surrounding some of Illinois' public university campuses, even before classes are scheduled to begin.

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this story did not denote that the coronavirus positivity rates and percentages reflect the zip codes and communities surrounding a college campus, and not the campus itself. This updated version of the story makes that clear.

Colleges and universities in the Chicago area continue to scrap and rewrite their return-to-campus plans, struggling with coronavirus numbers that refuse to stabilize.

Late Tuesday, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana became the latest school to table plans for in-person learning. The school's president, Rev. John Jenkins, said instruction will take place exclusively online for at least the next two weeks.

"The virus is a formidable foe," Jenkins said in a statement. "For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it."

As late as Monday, Notre Dame boasted on its website that over 99% of its students had tested virus-free. But later in the day, the school reported 89 new cases on campus, with 147 confirmed since Aug. 3.

For weeks, and in advance of students arriving back on campuses, NBC 5 Investigates has been looking at the positivity rates for the communities that are home to the colleges and universities most-attended by Illinois students. They certainly show that Notre Dame is not alone in facing a spike in positive tests.

Here are the latest numbers for the zip codes in which public colleges and universities in Illinois are located.

It's important to note that these are not cases reported AT these schools -- most of which have not yet started classes yet. They are the cases reported for the residents who live within the zip code and community in which the school is located.

The state can apply a "warning" status to places that have positivity rates of 8.0% or above, while the World Health Organization expresses concern for positivity rates of 5.0% or above. Recent daily cases, per 100,000 residents, can indicate an emerging "hot spot" if they exceed 10-15 daily average cases over the previous 7 days.

(In the weeks to come, NBC5 Investigates will continue to track these communities and zip codes' progression of coronavirus cases, as students begin to move back in to the universities that have primarily residential campuses.)

Southern Illinois University -- Edwardsville (SIUE)
As of Tuesday: The city of Edwardsville had a 7.9% positivity rate, with 27.5 recent daily cases, per 100,000 residents of the city, over  the past week. Students at SIUE are moving in this week, and classes start next Monday, Aug. 24.

Eastern Illinois University -- Charleston (EIU)
The city of Charleston, Illinois recorded a 7.5% positivity rate as of Tuesday, with 45.2 recent average daily cases per 100,000 residents of the city. The school's website says it is offering free testing to new students beginning Wednesday; and then for returning students starting next Monday, Aug. 24 – the day that students begin classes.

Governor's State University -- University Park (GSU)
As of Tuesday, the Village of University Park was at a 8.2% positivity rate, with 17.4 recent average daily cases per 100,000 residents of the village, over the past week. Governor's State's student body consists mainly of commuters, however, so there may be less interaction with the surrounding neighborhoods than at a primarily-residential university.

Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIUC)
The City of Carbondale registered a 6.9% positivity rate as of Tuesday, with 13.1 recent average daily cases per 100,000 Carbondale residents.

University of Illinois - Springfield (UIS)
NBC5 Investigates found a 3.5% positivity rate within the Springfield zip code that houses the University of Illinois at Springfield, with11.6 average daily cases per 100,000 residents there, over the past week.

Illinois State University - Normal (ISU)
As of Tuesday, the Town of Normal had a 3.3% positivity rate for coronavirus cases among its full-time residents, with 11.4 recent average daily cases per 100,000 citizens, over the past week.

Chicago State University
Residents in the Chicago neighborhood of Roseland, where Chicago State University is located, are seeing coronavirus cases at a 3.9% positivity rate, with 9.0 recent average daily new cases per 100,000 residents of Roseland, as of Tuesday.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
U.I.C. -- which has a combination of residential and commuter students, is located in Zip code 60607, which comprises Chicago's Near West Side neighborhood of University Village. As of Tuesday, that neighborhood had a 2.8% positivity rate and 9.7 recent average daily new cases per 100,000 residents there, over the past week.

Northeastern Illinois University - Chicago (NEIU)
N.E.I.U. is primarily a commuter school. Full-time residents in the neighborhood (zip code 60625) live in an area where coronavirus is currently at a 2.7% positivity rate, with 7.4 recent average daily cases per 100,000 residents, over the past week.

Northern Illinois University - DeKalb (NIU)
Residents of the city of DeKalb are currently at a 2.8% positivity rate for coronavirus, with 6.6 recent average daily cases per 100,000 DeKalb residents, over the past week.

Western Illinois University - Macomb (WIU)
The city of Macomb is currently registering a 2.2% positivity rate for its residents who have been tested for coronavirus. As of Tuesday, the city had 5.9 recent average daily cases per 100,000 Macomb residents, over the past week.

University of Illinois - Champaign (U of I)
School has not yet begun at Illinois' flagship university, but -- as of Tuesday, residents in the city of Champaign were testing at just a 0.4% positivity rate for coronavirus, and the city was recording 8.7 recent average daily new cases per 100,000 Champaign residents, over the past week.

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