The University of Cincinnati (UC) recorded a total of 69 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and employees during the first week of fall semester classes, according to preliminary public health data. 

UC’s weekly total of new cases represents a 21% increase from the week prior, according to the university’s most recent data. Last week, the university recorded a total of 57 positive cases among students and employees. 

The university’s testing positivity rate remains low compared to county and statewide statistics. 

Of the 571 tests conducted from Aug. 21 through Aug. 27, only 16 returned positive – all of which were students. That translates to a positive test rate of 2.8%. 

In comparison, Hamilton County’s seven-day average positivity rate was 9.88% over the same period. Ohio’s positive test rate was 10.86%, the data shows. 

Hospitals in Greater Cincinnati continue to struggle with an influx of COVID-19 patients, with the number of patients occupying hospital and ICU beds at its highest point since the beginning of the year, public health officials say

According to public health data from Wednesday, the seven-day moving average for occupied medical-surgical beds in Southwest Ohio hospitals was 2,419. The average for occupied ICU beds in the region was 501. That is a rate at which “moderate to extreme strain” is placed on hospital staffing. 

Each of the 14 counties in the Greater Cincinnati region have a high rate of community transmission as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health Collaborative data shows 48% of people in Southwest Ohio are completely vaccinated. 

On Wednesday, the university announced a vaccine requirement for campus community. That decision comes off the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration giving full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. 

Students, faculty and staff who are not already fully vaccinated must receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, with those receiving a two-dose vaccine required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, UC President Neville Pinto said in a statement.

While the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still authorized under emergency use, those vaccines also fulfill UC’s requirement. 

Students who are not fully vaccinated and not given an exemption by spring semester will be unenrolled from classes. 

“Our focus continues to be the wellbeing of our community,” Pinto said. “We believe this step best positions our university to meet the needs of our campus community.”

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here.