COVID spread is ‘significant, uncontrolled’ in Winnebago County

Chancellor: Students need to ‘think critically’ about decisions they make this weekend


UWO Flickr — Students wearing masks to and from classes is now a common sight on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Sophia Voight, Co-News Editor

UW Oshkosh reached a 24% student positivity rate as Winnebago County reached a record number of 149 positive cases on Thursday in what the Winnebago County Health Department is calling a “significant uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.”

In addition, the New York Times ranked the Oshkosh/Neenah area as No. 8 in its Top 20 list of U.S. metro areas where cases are rising the fastest.

Cases are steadily rising at UWO as 95 out of 396 students, or 24%, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, the third consecutive day that positive cases reached into the 20% range, according to UWO’s COVID-19 dashboard.

As of publication, the UWO Oshkosh campus has 333 active COVID-19 cases with 342 total positive cases from students and one positive employee case.

The WCHD reported 111 positive cases as of 8 a.m. today making the number of active cases in Winnebago County 692.

“The uncontrolled spread of cases is threatening the schools’ ability to remain open for in-person education and employers’ ability to keep a healthy workforce, and it is rapidly increasing the burden of our area hospitals and healthcare workforce,” the WCHD release said. The county experienced a 167% increase in positive cases over the past week, the highest biweekly case rate for the county to date.

WCHD links the spread to “a  lack of community participation in physical distancing, mask wearing and disregard for quarantine and isolation recommendations.”

The department’s COVID-19 summary also stated that the rapid rise in cases is largely among young adults aged 20-19 in households, workplaces and educational settings.

The report warns that cases will likely continue to surge over the coming weeks and will exceed testing resources.

The WCHD reported that hospitalization rates from COVID-19 have “quadrupled” since the end of August, with 60 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the Fox Valley area as of Sept. 16.

In a mass student email today, Chancellor Andrew Leavitt wrote that a reason for the rise in the university’s number of positive cases is due to the rigorous testing of on-campus students.

“Our daily testing volume given UWO’s size is unparalleled in the UW System,” Leavitt said.

He said the university’s investigation of virus hotspots and infection patterns has helped them successfully track people exposed to the virus.

In the email, Leavitt asks students to think critically about partying and attending gatherings over the weekend that could affect UWO’s ability to continue face-to-face classes.

UWO students and employees who have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms can get tested at Albee Hall by appointment through the MyPrevea app. Appointments are available Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. There are no Saturday appointments.

Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh is also running a regional COVID-19 testing site available to any Wisconsin resident above the age of 5.

To provide yourself from COVID-19, the Winnebago County Health Department recommends people wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, stay home when ill, cease unnecessary travel, heed isolation and quarantine guidance and avoid gatherings with people you don’t live with.