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Boise State coronavirus cases surge to a pandemic peak

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Posted at 2:06 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 16:06:58-04

BOISE, Idaho — This article was written by Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News.

Two weeks into fall semester, Boise State University is facing a record number of new coronavirus cases.

Boise State reported 127 new cases for the seven-day period ending Thursday — as a coronavirus surge continues to unfold at Idaho’s largest university.

Last week’s case count was 56.

For the week ending Aug. 19 — before the start of fall classes — the case count was 19.

The current case numbers also represent a pandemic peak. In 2020-21, case numbers crested in mid-November, with a one-week total of 121.

The spiraling case numbers come as Boise State administrators sound the alarm about prospects for face-to-face classes and campus events.

“If campus infection rates continue to increase, we likely will face temporary, rolling closures, which may mean shifting face-to-face classes online or to hybrid mode, suspending or cutting back some campus-based services, delaying or canceling large gatherings, performances and athletic events, and temporarily returning to remote work,” President Marlene Tromp and other administrators said in a Wednesday email to the campus community.

Classes began Aug. 23, with a mask requirement for indoor public facilities and crowded outdoor areas. The university cannot mandate vaccines for staff or students, but administrators are urging vaccines as a way of slowing the spread.

The bulk of the new cases involve students — 76 living off-campus and 42 living on campus. The remaining nine cases involve staff or faculty.

In another troubling metric, 8.4 percent of campus COVID-19 tests came back positive, up from nearly 6 percent the previous week. Health experts say a positivity rate of more than 5 percent suggests an outbreak that is out of control.

Boise State maintains 90 isolation beds for COVID-positive students; 39 beds were in use Friday.