The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Houston Hall, one of Penn's main testing sites, on Sep. 8, 2020.

Credit: Jonah Charlton

Penn’s weekly COVID-19 cases and positivity rate decreased while on-campus isolation capacity fell to 23.3% for the week leading up to on-campus move-in.

A total of 743 Penn community members tested positive for COVID-19 during the week from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15 — down from 1,313 the week before. The total number of tests increased slightly to 10,760, and the campus-wide positivity rate decreased from 13.47% to 6.91%, the lowest number in three weeks.

Nearly half of the recorded cases and tests originated from the community of faculty, postdoctoral students, and staff, which had a combined positivity rate of 6.98% during the week from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15.

Undergraduate students were the group with the highest positivity rate — 7.45%, down significantly from 21.66% during the previous week. However, only 171 new undergraduate cases were recorded, as fewer students were on campus as a result of the University’s delayed move-in policy for the spring semester.

The number of students in isolation continued to surge, reaching a record high — 1,314 — for the fourth consecutive week, up from 1,137 students from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8. On-campus isolation capacity has decreased to 23.3% availability. 

Penn's peer institution Harvard University has ended university-sponsored isolation housing for students, requiring those with positive cases to self-isolate in their dorms for five days. Penn has similarly modified its isolation policy to match the CDC’s five-day isolation recommendation followed by five days of masking, but the University will continue to provide housing for students who test positive.

In a Jan. 7 email to the Penn community, the University announced that all students arriving to campus in January are required to receive a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to arriving on campus and a gateway test by the end of the month. Students who do not take a gateway test by Jan. 24, the first day of in-person classes, are at risk of being placed on a registration hold, which would revoke the ability to add and drop courses.

Penn’s testing data estimates that at least one in every six Penn community members tested positive for COVID-19, specifically the Omicron variant, over winter break. To minimize COVID-19 transmission as members of the Penn community return to campus, University policy requires double-masking or the use of KN95 or N95 masks indoors, and the daily usage of PennOpen Pass to report symptoms and exposures to COVID-19.