As many as 25,000 students may return next week to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from areas with much higher infection rates of Covid-19 than Champaign County, according to a review of public health data by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The campus has a total of about 51,000 students, of which 5,508 attended online in the last academic year. The university is located in Champaign County, which has a population of about 207,000, has an overall positivity rate of about 2%, although recently rates have been below 1%.
The Midwest Center compared infection rates from public health data with student demographics and found:
More than 20,000 students came from 357 Illinois ZIP codes that have positivity rates over 5%. About 33,000 students from 1,050 ZIP codes attended the university in the last academic year.10,769 of those students are from Illinois ZIP codes with positivity rates above 8%.As many as 5,000 students may be arriving from 33 states that have positivity rates higher than 5%. Governments are advised to have a Covid-19 positivity rate at 5% or lower for at least two weeks before reopening, according to the World Health Organization.