Soft lockdown sees results from UI students

By Angelle Cortes 

On Sept. 2, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones issued a mass mail asking students to go into a soft lockdown and limit in-person interactions to decrease the amount COVID-19 cases.

At the time of the announcement there were over 400 new positive cases since the first day of school on Aug. 24. 

The weekend prior to the announcement the University received 11 complaints about large gatherings inside fraternities and private houses and responded to more than 100 party-related calls.  

On Sept. 2, the positivity rate was 1.69 percent, but that wasn’t the highest positivity rate the University saw. Several days before on Aug. 30 the case positivity rate was at 2.86 percent, which is the highest the University has been at so far. 

The Chancellor asked students to limit their in-person interactions and only do essential activities. Activities included taking the twice weekly COVID-19 tests, attending class, purchasing groceries and food, going to work, engaging in individual outdoor activity, attending religious services and seeking medical attention. 

Two weeks later, the increased enforcement on safety guidelines looks to have made an impact on the student body. 

There has been a gradual decrease in positive cases, with only once day going above 100 positive cases. The lowest number of positive cases among the University was 10, which was on Sept. 10. 

Almost 305,000 COVID-19 tests later, the University stands at a 0.44 positivity rate. Nearly matching the same rate it was at prior to the huge influx of students arriving several days before the start of the semester.  

On Sept. 16 Jones sent another mass mail letting students know that limiting their in-person activities saw a reverse in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. 

“We have made some progress in that time, and our new case numbers and positivity rates are moving down. But, we are still very much at a tipping point, and new cases could quickly and completely erase all of your progress and hard work,” Jones said. 

The Chancellor asks students to have no parties, safe gatherings, and make smart decisions.  

Photo courtesy of Angel Saldivar

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