Boise State sets highest all-time COVID case and positivity rate records with Omicron surge

Boise State has recorded all-pandemic highs in both COVID cases and the testing positivity rate with the Spring 2021 semester set to begin on Monday.

The university’s COVID tracking dashboard shows that 179 campus community members tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of January. This count is 52 cases higher than the previous high, set in early September 2021, increasing the all-time high by 40.9%.

The positivity rate among students, faculty and staff has also set an all-time high, reaching 17.9% this week. The previous high, also set in early September 2021, was just 8.4%. Experts say that a positivity rate that is “too high” is anything above 5%.

Boise State’s COVID-19 dashboard does not indicate which variants people are being infected with, but a Central District Health official told the Idaho Capitol Sun this week that locally, “the majority of those positive cases are the omicron variant.”

Statewide, Idaho has set a similar all-pandemic record for its positivity rate this week, reaching 17.1%. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, “This is the biggest increase in percent positivity in one week during the entire pandemic.”

Boise State’s campus-wide indoor mask requirement remains in place heading into the new semester. The most recent communication from university administration, on Dec. 30, encouraged vaccination and recommitted to keeping the campus open.

“Although we expected — and are experiencing — an increase in positivity rates, we want to keep the campus open and are still planning for a face-to-face start to the semester,” wrote Alicia Estey, Chief of Staff and Vice President for University Affairs.

Students sitting social distanced with masks in class.
[Photo of Boise State students in class with masks on]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

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