University of Iowa updates quarantine protocols

As positive cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported within students and employees on the UI campus, the UI provided updated quarantine protocols for asymptomatic carriers as UIHC receives its first shipment of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

With the last week of the fall semester underway, the University of Iowa updated quarantine guidelines  for asymptomatic close contacts of people with COVID-19 infections. 

The guidelines, based on The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated procedures, aim to encourage compliance with self-isolation.

Asymptomatic students may be released from quarantine after 10 full days if they have no symptoms, a negative diagnostic test taken between days eight and 10, but if social distancing is not possible, students must complete the full 14-day quarantine period. 

The CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus,” the email update read. “[Johnson County Public Health] will continue to partner with the university on contact tracing. If you are identified as a close contact, follow the recommendations of your local public health department.”

The UI said students who live on campus in residence halls will still be required to complete the full 14-day quarantine period.

For employees who want to quarantine for the full 14-day period, the UI said they will be allowed to do so, unless their position requires them to perform critical functions on campus and their department is in critical need of them to return to work earlier. 

Asymptomatic employees may shorten their quarantine period as long as they are able to maintain social distancing in the workplace, and may return to work after 10 days of quarantine regardless of a negative COVID-19 test result, or after seven days of quarantine if they had a negative COVID-19 test result on day five or later after being exposed to the virus. Similar to students, the UI said that if social distancing is not possible for certain employees within their workplace, they must complete the full 14-day quarantine period.

The UI reported since Dec. 11, there are 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff.

Eight of the 11 cases are within the student population, bringing the semester-to-date total to 2,790 self-reported positive cases of COVID-19 among students. The remaining three cases are among employees, bringing the semester-to-date total to 315 cases among employees.

There is one residence hall student in self-isolation, and zero in quarantine. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the UI has reported no hospitalized students. These numbers do not include UI Hospitals and Clinics staff members. Sunday, one UI Health Care employee reported a positive test, totaling 1,316 since the start of the pandemic. The number of hospitalized people at UIHC has dipped in recent weeks since a spike in mid-November. The hospital reported 44 adult inpatients and 2 pediatric inpatients Sunday.

While the UI continues to report positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff on campus, UI Hospitals and Clinics obtained about 1,000 doses of the recently approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.