In this week’s matchup, Northwestern University will travel from its campus in Evanston, Illinois, to meet the Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. As of now, the coronavirus situation for the Wildcats looks harsh compared to the campus that surrounds Ross-Ade.
Northwestern’s campus admittance policy is much more stringent than other Big Ten universities. Most underclassmen are forced to experience campus life only through a screen.
The only people permitted on the campus, according to the university’s website, are upperclassmen, graduate students, faculty, staff, pre-approved visitors and underclassmen who have presented circumstances that require them to live or attend classes on campus.
Before arriving at the beginning of the school’s three-month quarter, students were mailed testing kits. Upon a negative result, some were cleared to move into a single-bed dorm and take a second test within two hours of moving in. Now, every person living on or regularly coming onto campus must complete weekly tests and daily symptom-tracking assessments to maintain access to campus buildings.
Students were not free to roam campus after arriving for the first time and taking their follow-up test. There was a 15-day quarantine process called “Wildcat Wellness” for incoming residents at the beginning of each quarter.
Among other sanitizing regimen, high-touch points in all academic and residential buildings are cleaned hourly. There are disposable face masks, tissues and sanitizer available at all building entrances.
Is all of it working?
Northwestern Athletics doesn’t publicly release its student-athlete testing information, but the positivity rate on campus is relatively low compared to other Big Ten schools, especially Purdue.
Northwestern’s largest seven-day increase in cases was 58 the week of Oct. 23, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. As of Wednesday, Northwestern had reported 51 new cases in the previous seven days, landing at a 0.74% positivity rate.
The campus population in a typical year is around 24,000. Even with a reduced population of about 7,000 this fall, the number of positive cases is relatively small.
Purdue, on the other hand, has recently recorded an unprecedented spike in cases on campus and in locker rooms.
The Purdue COVID-19 dashboard reported 435 new cases in the last seven days and a 6.49% seven-day positivity rate as of Wednesday. Among student-athletes, the number of active cases jumped from four to 19, according to Monday’s athletics COVID-19 report.
The number of football players and staff affected has not been confirmed by Purdue Athletics.
Because of Northwestern’s efforts to control community spread on campus and its relative success, the Wildcats earn a danger rating of green.