Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 24 to include updated data from UNL’s COVID-19 Dashboard.
Over 20,000 University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty, staff and students have either had a cotton swab inserted into their nose or spit into a tube in the past two weeks in preparation for the start of the spring 2021 semester.
UNL opened its new, mandatory saliva-based testing program to students in the Nebraska College of Law, Nebraska College of Technical, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry and UNMC College of Nursing on Jan. 12, according to Leslie Reed, UNL’s public affairs director.The saliva-based program opened to the rest of the UNL community on Jan. 19.
Since implementation, 23,549 total test results have been received. Of those results, 224 have yielded positive COVID-19 cases, a positivity rate of about 0.95%.
Reed said the overwhelming number of tests performed since Jan. 12 have been saliva tests, though there are still nasal-based testing options available on campus and in the community for individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus.
The UNL COVID-19 Dashboard collects the data, which reflects all COVID-19 test results conducted on and off campus, including both nasal and saliva testing.
The university has reported 2,383 positive test results among 47,469 total tests received since Aug. 12. This means about a 5.02% positivity rate of all tests performed.
Beginning Jan. 12, new positive test results represent 9.40% of UNL’s total cases, while all test results received since Jan. 12 represent 49.61%, just shy of the total number of test results received last semester.
University officials anticipate receiving additional test results in the coming days before the second round of testing begins on Thursday, but officials are pleased with the participation in re-entry testing so far, according to Reed.
The second round of testing should be completed within 10 days of the first, and individuals will be notified when their second test is required in the Safer Community app or via an online portal for those without a smartphone.
As of Friday, about 19,000 community members had downloaded the Safer Community app, which is required for most building access on campus through the mandatory testing program, according to Reed. She also said more than 22,000 students had also signed the enhanced Spring 2021 Cornhusker Commitment.
In December, Chancellor Ronnie Green announced mandatory testing would continue throughout the spring 2021 semester every two weeks, but in early-January, the university pivoted to an evidence-based approach to decide testing models.
The second round of re-entry testing will proceed through Feb. 7, at which point Reed said university officials will analyze collected data and decide how to proceed.
Reed said future plans could include further mandatory testing, testing specific parts of the campus community or a form of randomized mitigation testing, among other possibilities.
This story was updated on Feb. 8, to reflect changes the university made to first round testing data and include data from Jan. 27. Leslie Reed, UNL’s public affairs director, said the university had double reported positive cases for individuals that previously tested positive in the past 90 days. Other changes reflect changes as reported on UNL’s COVID-19 Dashboard.
This story was updated on Jan. 27, to include updated data through Jan. 26.