University of Chicago Brings Back ‘Isolate-in-Place' Protocol as COVID Cases Rise

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As the so-called "stealth omicron" COVID subvariant continues its rapid spread in the Midwest, one Chicago school is seeing a significant increase in cases and has announced the return of mitigation methods to help stop the spread of the illness.

According to the UChicago COVID-19 dashboard updated Friday, the school recorded 267 new cases of COVID for the period from April 8 to April 14.

The previous weekly count was 180.

An April 15 UChicago Forward update posted to students also indicated that due to the rise in cases, some isolation protocols — which hadn't been used in several months— would return.

"There are now 64 students in on-campus isolation housing," the update read. "Housing & Residence Life is using isolation-in-place for a limited number of cases until numbers return to a lower level. This approach was used on a temporary basis in Winter Quarter. We will continue to rely on the guidance of experts at UChicago Medicine."

According to the university's publicly posted Guidance for Individuals in Isolation, "Anyone living on campus who tests positive for coronavirus must live in isolation housing until cleared to return to campus by the University’s Contact Tracing Team. Those living off campus are advised to isolate in their homes. Isolation typically lasts for 10 days."

The Chicago Maroon, the University of Chicago's independent newspaper, reports that, based on emails sent to students by school officials, 'isolate-in-place' was put into effect earlier in 2022 and is the process in which students could isolate in their own dormitory rooms in an effort to conserve space a different dorm specifically reserved for COVID isolation.

Where Are COVID Cases Rising Across Illinois?

Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a warning that cases were rising across the state, saying residents "should be paying close attention to conditions in their local communities" and urged vaccinations and booster shots for eligible populations.

While COVID-19 metrics have either improved or remained stable throughout most of Illinois in the past week, at least one county has seen a rise in community spread of the virus.

As of Friday, only one county in Illinois—Champaign County, where the University of Illinois is located —was listed as a medium level for COVID transmission, compared to the 101 other counties in the state, which were said to be experiencing low community levels.

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