Duke University announced new, stricter COVID-19 protocols Monday after its surveillance testing turned up hundreds of positive tests among its mostly vaccinated population.
Duke, which required COVID-19 vaccination for students this fall, reported that in the last week, 304 undergraduate students, 45 graduate students and 15 employees tested positive. All but eight of these individuals were vaccinated, and the “vast majority” are asymptomatic. “A small number” have minor cold- and flu-like symptoms, and none have been hospitalized.
“The good news is that we are able to identify these infections early and quickly, that our near-fully vaccinated student (98 percent) and employee (92 percent) populations are protected from serious illness, and that we continue to see no evidence of transmission in our classrooms and other campus locations where all individuals are masked,” Duke administrators wrote in a campuswide message.
“Nonetheless, this surge is placing significant stress on the people, systems and facilities that are dedicated to protecting our health, safety and the ability of Duke to fulfill its educational mission, particularly our isolation space for on-campus students who test positive.”
Among the new measures it’s putting in place, Duke said it will require masks in all indoor and outdoor settings on campus, with few exceptions; temporarily suspend indoor group seating at Duke dining facilities; put new limitations on student activities; and give professors teaching undergraduate classes the opportunity to teach remotely for the next two weeks. Duke is also newly requiring vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment for all faculty and staff.