COVID-19 cases show a steady decrease for students and faculty at UK


A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is injected into a patient’s arm on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at UK’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Amy Oakley

Nearly two years after the pandemic started, many students and faculty at UK are feeling hopeful now that the university has gone mask-optional.

Many neighboring universities across the state have either ended their mask mandates or gone mask optional, with masks only being required in classrooms. The university and state have both seen decreases in the amount of COVID cases since January.

Testing for COVID-19 during the spring semester started on Jan. 3, 2022. The COVID-19 Data Dashboard, created by UK, has tested approximately 21,216 students and 4,699 employees. Of the students tested, there have been 2,079 positive results and 19,136 negative results. Only 393 of employees’ tests reported positive, with 4,306 negative results. 

According to the dashboard, total cases of COVID-19 have decreased steadily for students and employees over the last two months. As of March 2, there are currently no students in campus isolation facilities. Additionally, there are only seven active cases that have been reported to UK Health Corps. As for employees, there are currently seven active cases and only one new reported case as of March 2. 

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the positivity rate in Kentucky had declined this week to 6.04% from last week’s 8.56%. 

“We’re seeing a steady decline in numbers,” he said. 

On Tuesday, Capiluto announced in a campus-wide email that UK is adopting an optional mask-wearing policy with masks only being mandatory in classrooms, private offices and laboratories as of March 9. 

The updated policy will be used in common areas such as the Gatton Student Center, common areas or hallways of classroom buildings, dining halls, libraries, workout facilities and residence halls. Masks will also be optional during voluntary events, such as Campus Ruckus, concerts, theatrical performances and at athletic venues. 

Vaccination status has also increased on campus since January. As of March 2, 92.1% of campus has been vaccinated. Of this statistic, 89.9% of students and 91.4% of staff have been fully vaccinated. Campus faculty have the highest rate of vaccinations, coming in at 97.7%. 

“We are pleased to make this move at this time. It points to the hope that we are beginning a new phase in the long battle against this virus,” Capiluto said of the new policy.