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Credit: Ava Cruz

The weekly COVID-19 case count at Penn spiked considerably last week with 76 positive cases, nearly tripling the previous week's numbers of 26.

The University reported 76 positive cases for the week ending in Sept. 12 — the highest weekly case count so far this semester — after reporting only 26 cases for the week ending in Sept. 5. The weekly positivity rate also jumped from 0.66% to 2.51%, nearly quadrupling. The week before classes began saw the second highest weekly case count and positivity rate at 33 and 0.85%, respectively.

Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that contact tracers have identified and isolated the source of the rise in positive cases last week.

"The positivity rate uptick was driven mostly by 3 groups of students in shared community circles," he wrote. "Appropriate isolation and quarantine recommendations have been implemented and we are continuing to monitor the situation.”

The University has a confirmed total of 144 COVID-19 cases from the Houston Hall testing site since the first week of August, with a 1.1% total positivity rate. Penn has administered 13,097 tests to Penn community members at Houston Hall.

The Daily Pennsylvanian has created a Penn COVID-19 tracker featuring automatically updated graphs of the positive case count at Penn since the week of Aug. 8, and cumulative case count across the student body domestically and internationally since April 20.

Penn currently reports a cumulative case count of 355 cases among domestic and international Penn undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. These students have been tested by Student Health Service, Penn Medicine, or elsewhere and self-reported to SHS.

Last week's sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases at Penn comes in what was Penn’s last week of gateway testing to screen any asymptomatic student living on or off campus.

The University will now administer on-going testing for symptomatic and select asymptomatic students, faculty, postdoctoral students, and staff, according to Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé's Sept. 11 email to the Penn community. 

Those who are present on campus for at least eight hours every week, whose activities are done in a congregate setting that involves at least 10 people, or who share a residential space with three or more individuals with whom they are not related, including those who live in College Houses, will be be required to enroll in surveillance testing.

During the first few weeks of surveillance testing, Penn will not report its daily COVID-19 case count as the University shifts all data related to COVID-19 testing from the Wellness Services FAQ to the COVID-19 Dashboard.

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