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Penn has reported nine positive undergraduate COVID-19 cases during the week of March 7 to March 13. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

For the fifth consecutive week, Penn's undergraduate COVID-19 weekly positivity rate decreased to a new semester low.

After experiencing an alarming uptick in cases in early February, Penn's undergraduate positivity rate and case count has decreased every week since, from a semester high of 4.57% and 245 cases from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 to a semester low of 0.19% and nine total positive cases during the week of March 7 to March 13.

Director of Campus Health Ashlee Halbritter commended students on another week featuring a low positivity rate, saying she is "very proud of the large number of students who continue to follow the public health guidelines and change their behaviors to protect the Penn community."

While Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé agreed, he said he remains apprehensive about how student travel from last week could result in a potential spike in COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks.

Penn previously canceled spring break to discourage travel, replacing it with three Engagement Days spread throughout the semester and two "Spring Stay" days, which took place on March 10 and 11. 

Students who traveled out of the state are required by the University to quarantine for 10 days, unless they have been fully vaccinated within the past three months, are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, and have a green PennOpen Pass.

Penn also updated its Campus Compact Violation Data Dashboard for the period from Feb. 20 to March 15. A total of 154 violations were submitted to the University's Campus Compact Review Panel during that period, down from 257 reports between the beginning of the spring semester and Feb. 19.

Since the beginning of the semester, 64% of reports that resulted in University intervention resulted in disciplinary sanctions, 19% in educational interventions, and 17% in campus restrictions.

This week's semester-low positivity rate follows Penn's announcement that it is currently planning for in-person classes during the fall 2021 semester after over a year of remote instruction.  

Top administrators wrote in a March 15 announcement to faculty that the "increasing availability of effective vaccines" and President Joe Biden's recent promise to make every adult in the United States eligible for vaccination by May 1, as well as his projection that there will be enough vaccines for every adult in the United States by the end of May, have allowed the University to be hopeful about a nearing end to the pandemic.

Provost Wendell Pritchett estimated a "50-50 chance" that Penn will be able to launch a COVID-19 vaccination effort for students by May at a Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 25.

As COVID-19 cases have continuously declined on campus and in Philadelphia, several parts of campus have reopened this semester. The University launched limited indoor dining at dining halls on March 8 and reopened the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center at a limited capacity in February. 

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