WKU reports 86 new COVID cases, all students

Public seating is being limited in the Downing Student Union at Western Kentucky University. The bustling hub of the campus is expected be drastically different under social distancing, mask wearing and capacity limits that will be enforced in the Fall 2020 semester to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Leo Bertucci

WKU reported 86 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the campus’s cumulative total since July to 299.

All 86 of the new cases were attributed to students.

Of the total cases on campus, 267 were students, and 32 were faculty, staff and on-campus contractors. Since July 1, the university has conducted 1,208 tests.

President Timothy Caboni stated in an email to faculty and staff that the positive case count may not be accurate because the Barren River District Health Department could not provide their own positive case data due to a reporting issue that occurred during a transition to new contact tracing software. WKU’s contact tracing efforts are coordinated through the health department.

Caboni said in his email that through contact tracing and testing, the university has “seen evidence of a pattern developing due to the number of positive cases in some fraternity and sorority housing.”

“To be clear, these cases were not a result of social gatherings, but a byproduct of living arrangements in those facilities,” Caboni said. “As a result and beginning today, WKU will require fraternity and sorority members living in chapter houses to undergo COVID-19 testing at the Graves Gilbert Clinic on campus.”

From Aug. 21 to Aug. 27, the last period data was available, WKU counted 572 coronavirus tests. The tests counted are from Graves Gilbert Clinic and Med Center Health.

Bob Skipper, director of media relations, said in an email that the 86 positive cases from this week are among the 572 new tests. The percent-positive rate calculated from the new reporting period is 15%.

Skipper said the percent-positive rate could be high because most of the students who tested for COVID-19 did so because they were symptomatic or because they were contacted through contact tracing.

Skipper said that 12 students are currently in isolation on campus. 

Leo Bertucci can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @leober2chee.