Donde Plowman

Chancellor-elect Donde Plowman speaks ahead of her July 1 start day on Monday, May 6. 

In her COVID-19 update livestream on Aug. 18, Chancellor Donde Plowman discussed the data related to case counts, the first identified cluster of cases and how the university is dealing with rooms being cleaned as a result of possible COVID-19 cases.

The active case counts and those in isolation have increased upon students returning to campus. As of Aug. 18, there are currently 75 active cases of COVID-19, 66 of them being students and the other nine cases are employees.

The number of student cases has increased significantly, as expected, since all students have now arrived on campus. This number is expected to continue to increase but students and staff alike must be diligent about wearing masks, washing their hands and socially distancing.

As of Aug. 17, UT had 355 people self isolating. Many people in isolation have not come to campus, though. Furthermore, 42% of students and employees who are self isolating are doing so because they are considered a close contact, 27.4% because they have developed symptoms and 21.6% because of a positive COVID-19 test result.

UT is prioritizing the safety of staff and students, and it is very possible that as the semester progresses, more classes may be moved online.

Plowman also announced that the COVID-19 numbers would now be updated five days a week rather than twice a week.

As for a “cluster,” Dr. Spencer Gregg defined this as “five connected positive cases or 20 connected close contacts of a positive case or cases.”

The first cluster was identified at an off-campus party on Laurel Avenue last Tuesday. Plowman stressed that students must be transparent and honest about their symptoms and tell a contact tracer or fill out the self assessment form. If students do not cooperate, they could be expelled.

Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas further emphasized the need for students to work together and follow the health and safety guidelines. More restrictive guidelines will be coming soon for students to follow.

When speaking about cleaning rooms of people who have been suspected of contracting COVID-19, Plowman said that rooms are being routinely cleaned no matter what, but these rooms would be given a special cleaning.

The specially cleaned rooms will be closed for a very short period of time — even as short as an hour — and will then be reopened. They have added information on the specific rooms that have been cleaned due to a relation to COVID-19 on the data page.

All of this data and more can be accessed here.

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