After an opening week of classes where cases on campus ranged from 8 to 20 or so, the university reported 66 cases on Monday.
Chancellor Robert Jones, in a Jan. 20 Massmail, told students to leave their residences only for essential errands, such as going to the grocery store or getting tested for COVID-19. Jones added students who don’t follow the COVID-19 guidelines can lose access to University resources like Compass and Zoom. Despite the guidelines, Campustown bars have been busy, especially on weekends.
The University expected COVID-19 cases to increase as students came back to Champaign-Urbana and expected COVID-19 strains, such as the U.K. strain, to emerge in the community.
“Our Shield team predicts an increase in COVID-19 cases as we repopulate the campus,” Jones’ message read. “We also expect to see the highly contagious B117 variant enter our community. This variant of the virus appears to spread 50 percent faster than any other strains. It has already caused the UK to go into lockdown and has already been detected in our state.”
On Feb. 2, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District reported the first cases of the U.K. strain of COVID-19 in Champaign County.
“The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) announces several cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom, have been confirmed in Champaign County,” the district said in a press release. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viruses are constantly changing, and this includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These genetic variations occur over time and can lead to the emergence of new variants that may have different characteristics.”
The news comes as COVID-19 vaccines become more available to the general public. The health district website says 29, 489 doses of the vaccine have been administered and 4,805 Champaign County residents are fully vaccinated as of February 2.
Vaccines have now expanded to include essential workers such as postal workers and grocery workers, according to a February 1 press release. This week, vaccines are available at the former Dressbarn, located at 1901 N. Marketview Street in Champaign, and those who can get the vaccine can set up an appointment by calling 217-902-6100.
Those who are getting vaccinated should be mindful of a few things:
“You cannot receive the COVID vaccine if you have received any other vaccinations within 14 days prior to your appointment,” the press release said.
“You may be asked to show an ID for verification of employment.
Patients will need to wear a face covering, practice social distancing, and plan to allow at least 15 minutes for observation after the vaccination. Please limit the number of individuals in your party that are not receiving the vaccine and wear clothing to allow easy access to the upper portion of the arm for the injection.
There is no cost to individuals to get a COVID vaccine. You may be asked to bring your insurance card if you have one, but you will not be turned away if you do not have insurance.”