Update on Oct. 15, 2020: The following story is developing and is being updated with more information as it becomes apparent to The Tiger.
As of Clemson University’s COVID-19 dashboard update on Oct. 12, Clemson University has had 4,263 cumulative positive cases since June 2020, the highest number out of any other university in the United States.
Update on Oct. 15, 2020: Clemson University's Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications Joe Galbraith reached out to The Tiger News to comment. "The university has made the decision to actively seek out positive cases of COVID-19, working with epidemiologists to identify cases and isolate or quarantine when necessary," Galbraith said. "The university feels confident in the decisions it has made, and we have reported more positive cases because of the total number of tests run, compared to other universities and their testing procedures."
This staggering announcement comes after Clemson surpassed the University of Georgia in the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases, with the University of Georgia only having 3,964 total cases since the start of the pandemic, and 3,507 since August 2020, according to The Red and Black.
Clemson had previously trailed behind UGA, having only 3,770 positive cases against UGA’s 3,888 as of Oct. 8, according to The New York Times. However, both universities continue to have case counts far ahead of any other university, with Ohio State University in third place having 3,051 cases.
Clemson University’s COVID-19 dashboard does not reflect the intensity of the spread of COVID-19 on campus when compared to other universities’ display of data. The dashboard displays a declining positivity rate to 4.2% for the week of 10/04 to 10/10 from its peak of 6.7% the week of 09/27 to 10/03, as well as 411 individuals currently being provided Clemson Home accommodations for their isolation or quarantine.
The cumulative test result positivity rate of 5.9% is a percentage of all positive tests with all negative tests. This provides a statistic that is lower than the actual impact to students on campus and the positivity rate among the student body.
When taking the cumulative number of positive student results (4,140) and calculating a positivity rate with the Clemson student population (25,822 undergraduates and graduates), an alternative picture is painted: that 16.03% of Clemson students have been infected with COVID-19 since record-keeping began in June.
Sixteen out of every hundred students have gotten the coronavirus, and if cases continue to rise, it could become two out of every ten students. This statistic is an additional perspective of the impact to the student population, as it does not let those who have multiple negative test results bring down the impact of the single positive test results students have submitted.
Clemson University, at this time, has not signaled any intentions to pause in-person instruction or campus access, despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
The Tiger News has filed a FOIA request with Clemson University for further information and statistics, including information regarding the isolation and quarantine capacity Clemson University has, the total number of COVID-19 cases by community or cluster and historical COVID-19 data.