UO has 7% of Lane County’s population, and 44% of this week’s new Covid cases


For the week ending yesterday there were 406 reported positive tests in Lane County, 178 of which were UO students or employees. As shown below, Lane county cases that are not linked to UO are decreasing, while UO cases are increasing:

Note that UO has a more rigorous testing regime for those students in the dorms than does Lane County, although this should not affect the marked difference in the changes over time much. UO has roughly 25,000 students and employees, total Lane County population is about 385,000. Data and sources here.

And I’ll add a pitch for UO’s program to provide free testing for Lane County residents at Mac and Matt Courts, info here.

1/19/2021: 28% of reported Lane County Covid cases are UO students

According to the NYT, Lane had an average of 84 daily cases over the past week, or 588 total. UO (with a more comprehensive testing program) reports 162 student cases over the same week:

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23 Responses to UO has 7% of Lane County’s population, and 44% of this week’s new Covid cases

  1. Anas clypeata says:

    This is why the 4J school district’s chatter about going back to in-person school mystifies me.

    • thedude says:

      Let’s see the reasons to get kids back to in person school

      1. Kids aren’t learning anything in zoom school (50 percent of students are failing classes as opposed to 8 percent in normal years)
      2. Teachers (a small population) can get vaccinated now. If they don’t want to get vaccinated now, it’s just vaccine hesitancy because they are too comfortable teaching zoom school. Get the vaccine or risk getting Covid19. That’s always been the decision we all need to make.
      3. REsearch shows if community spread is low (and by all measures the spread is low in Oregon except for Oregon’s “extreme” risk made up categories) schools being open does NOT spread the disease more.
      4. Detection of child abuse is down 50 percent (it largely gets picked up in school) but domestic violence is up 20 percent, (which means we’re probably missing 70 percent of child abuse cases)
      5. Suicidality of kids is up dramatically. Depression is up. Hopelessness is up.
      6. Kids won’t be able to get vaccinated for COvi19 for at least another year, maybe longer. The risk of them getting sick is school is small, and the risk of them becoming seriously ill is nearly 0.

      So if your demand is the risks of Covid19 be 0, why are you ok with all of these other risks kids are experiencing with schools shut down in zoom mode.

      • Oryx says:

        Right on, Dude.
        You can add that schools in most of Europe are open, “And experts say these nations are also demonstrating a commitment to avoiding the worst impacts of the pandemic on children.” https://www.npr.org/2020/11/13/934153674/lessons-from-europe-where-cases-are-rising-but-schools-are-open
        The keep-schools-closed crowd never acknowledges the benefit of schools and effective education, or the hardships the lack of in person school causes, especially to the poor or those with bad home environments.

        • honest Uncle Bernie says:

          Oryx, this is the headline of a Wall Street Journal story from Jan 16:

          “Europe’s Schools Are Closing Again on Concerns They Spread Covid-19
          Countries are abandoning pledges to keep classrooms open as concerns mount over children’s capacity to pass on the virus”

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        dude, I would be more sanguine about reopening the schools if (1) there was more reason to think that the rest of the society was serious about stopping the spread of covid; (2) I was confident that the school administration would or could enforce needed social distancing rules; (3) if I was confident in school ventilation capabilities, and the will of the public to undertake the needed effort and expense. I am dubious on all of the above.

        Also, a split system where some students are kept home at the behest of their parents, and some are in school at the behest of theirs, doesn’t seem very workable, certainly not for the teachers.

        • thedude says:

          1. Society can’t stop the spread of covid19 absent authoritarian regimes. Only herd immunity, natural or by vaccines stops the virus.

          2. There generally have not bee large outbreaks at schools all across the country. They are in person in 52 percent of public schools.

          3. This is a reasonable point. I think the newer schools would be ok.

          I think the split system would be fine. Teachers who don’t want the vaccine can teach zoom for parents who don’t want their kids back in person. Half the kids in school, half the kids at home in zoom makes distancing easier at the school. The challenge is the district will probably conclude that common sense solution is not equitable so everyone needs to have the same shitty experience, whatever it is.

          • honest Uncle Bernie says:

            dude, don’t be a phildo!. ok, society can’t literally “stop” the virus, but it could slow it down, like Norway or Japan, so that we could have had something like 1/15 or 1/30 the deaths. Or even just be like Canada, a couple hundred thousand fewer dead would really be something. Look up the old report “Scientists to Stop Covid 19.” And weep. Don’t be like Trump or Biden.

            “Split” teaching might be ok, just don’t try to make the teachers do two jobs.

            As for ventilation, does anyone in authority talk intelligently about this? Our high priced school super? Our moonbeam Gov? 4J board?

            • uomatters says:

              hUB, saying “don’t be a phildo” is disrespectful to thedude, and trivializes The Phildo and its magnificent, thrusting dominance over our campus. I’m leaving your comment up as your usage falls within the one cuss-word policy, but I beg my commenters not to abandon all sense of civility.

            • thedude says:

              I’m not asking them to do two jobs. I’m asking them to do 1. And based on my experience with 3 kids, they’re doing a crappy job, mostly relying on online HW and parents to fill in for lack of actual teaching and engagement. They’ll blame it on not enough preparation, canvas is too hard to learn, blah blah blah. And now they don’t want to get vaccinated to teach back in person.

              I’m not like Trump or Biden, come on. I’ll call us out for having bad priorities wherever they are.

              Oregon has done a reasonable job of slowing down the virus. The only places that have done an excellent job are island nations. We aren’t that. The larger a nation is with open borders between states, and the harder it is to contain the virus. It doesn’t help when the CDC early on lies to us on the benefits of masks to help preserve PPE for doctors, and then Trump for whatever reason denied the benefits of masks when he could have made a killing selling maga masks. Also we’ve over emphasized masks the last 6 months of the pandemic, as people have quit washing their hands, physical distancing, etc. These things work together as complements, not substitutes.

              But cases are low in Oregon, and it’s spreading less than it has in months. Deaths should be cut in half with how many we’ve vaccinated in just 1 month. Even better in another month or two.

              Just as with debt, snowballing paying off debts is better than rational paying of debts, I thing something similar applies for opening up society. Teachers are much smaller group than everyone 65+. Getting the teachers vaccinated (based on the demands of of unions) allows schools to open up months sooner than if we vaccinate everyone 65+, and vaccinating the teachers delays the 65+ from getting vaccines by a week or two.

              • Hippo says:

                Where is your evidence that teachers don’t want to get vaccinated? My partner teaches in a neighboring school district and she and her colleagues are waiting patiently for vaccines, which are not widely available yet for teachers. Almost everyone I know in secondary education is willing to go back to the classroom, but want to be vaccinated before doing so. That is completely reasonable.

                Stop with the teacher bashing. If you have evidence that teachers are resisting vaccination, I’d be interested in seeing it.

                • Dog says:

                  evidence, evidence? we don’t need not stinkin’ evidence! what to you think this is, an academic blog as a discussion among scholars? …. wow

                  On a more serious note I believe (based on evidence from planning that remains not in the public domain yet) that towards the end of this month – teachers (likely K-8) will start to be receiving priority vaccinations. The vax rollout is really accelerating each day.

                  And I think this this acceleration is going to give us anti-vaxer data as a function of profession. It would be an absurd example for teachers to have significant anti-vaxers among them – on the other hand absurd examples like Marjorie Greene seem to exist and can even become cult leaders.

                  When does this shit ever end?

                • thedude says:

                  The news.


                  Now let’s see if you’ll line up with the Trumpers and call a liberal journal like the Oregonian fake news.

                  Also, I was in line front of three teachers who were skiing last Wed (WEd are off) at WIllamette Pass. They had been vaccinated but joked they were fine zoom teaching as long as it let them ski in the mornings.

                • Hippo says:

                  Behind a paywall.

                  I guess three people skiing constitutes data. (By the way, do we have Wednesdays off now so that we can go skiing? I didn’t get that memo…)

                • Hippo says:

                  Behind a paywall.

                  I thought you said teachers were resisting vaccination. Your three skiers said they were vaccinated.

                • thedude says:

                  If I zoom teach at 2:00pm on a Wed, stay up until 10pm doing grad admissions and research, get up at 5:00am to do early morning emails, then yes I get Wed morning off as long as I’m back by 1pm.

                  And there’s several news articles talking about vaccine hesitancy. Let’s not be naive and imagine it isn’t there. Shoot, barely more than half of medical workers are getting vaccinated right now. The elderly are most game for it because they’re the most at risk…

                  The risk a new vaccine is there and won’t work perfectly or has side effects is a real one. I think Covid19 is a worse risk, but others might not agree. There’s going to be reluctance at UO.

                  THe fact is teachers resisted learning how to do remote education over the summer, and then complained they were blindsided by a sudden switch to online learning the fall and then since then the majority are doing a fairly crappy job of remote education.

  2. Science matters, yet modern power lies in willful ignorance says:

    Un-contextualized alarmist material like this is why UO Matters is just like any other blog out there. The UO is testing every single student in the dorms every week (asymptomatic). Everyone else is testing people who feel sick (symptomatic). Of course there is a big difference in prevalence. Not that there aren’t more cases among students than there were in the fall, but that is clearly the case in the general population as well. Because the country never invested in apples, all we have are oranges to compare to in the outside world.

    • uomatters says:

      Your comment is misleading and in part false. As I said in post: “Note that UO has a more rigorous testing regime for those students in the dorms than does Lane County, although this should not affect the marked difference in the changes over time much.”
      Do you have a scientific explanation for the difference in slopes?
      Also, while students in single dorm rooms are tested weekly, those with room-mates are tested every other week. See https://housing.uoregon.edu/covid-19-faqs.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      Off-campus students are only partly included in the surveillance testing. There were 166 UO cases reported from 1/17 to 1/23, and 66 reported by the broad dorm testing. Not only that, UOmatters minimizes the contribution by population when he says that UO has 7% of Lane’s population. Employees of UO are not really contributing to the case count, and the student population actually in town is markedly lower this year.

      It isn’t alarmist to note that the broad testing of all dorm students has been at a >2% positive rate recently, and the current safeguards don’t seem sufficient to reduce the 20-40 cases a day coming from UO over the past two weeks. These students aren’t in great danger from these cases, but unless Lane is recognized as a “special case” by the state it will impact the ability to open more fully.

      • oldtimer says:

        A general observation. The share of positive cases for college age folk in the general population is about a third. uos share I’d not that much higher, given the heavy concentration of that age group at UO. The issue is age, not UO per se.

        • uomatters says:

          Good point about age, and it gets to the heart of what statistics like these should be used for and what control variables should be included when using them. One relevant question is when should UO, local schools and bars reopen and under what restrictions? Clearly the age distribution of cases and ensuing fatalities matters, as does transmission within and across ages, and the ages of these schools and businesses customers and workers. The same questions matter for designing a first-best vaccine distribution program, though I’d settle for second-best answers. Lane County’s Covid+ age distribution is at https://public.tableau.com/profile/lane.county#!/vizhome/LaneCountyCOVID-19CasesWeeklyOverallSummary/COVID-19Overall and as you note it is heavily skewed to college-age people.

        • ScienceDuck says:

          Maybe…maybe. There were ~300 cases in UO students in the past 2 weeks, and ~380 total cases in ages 18-22 in Lane county in the past 2 weeks. Is that proportionate to the ratio of UO students in town this year to all Lane 18-22 year olds?

  3. Science matters says:

    The comment is directed at your headline, which has a specific intent. The slopes are a natural by product of the fact that there is a lag in infection and there was no testing of students essentially in early January, so there will always be a zero point at the beginning and then an upward tick until the actual equilibrium number is indicated via a stable testing rate. Fitting a line between two point in which one is fixed at zero will always have a strong positive slope. This is not to say that student numbers might not in fact be increasing and that it is great that local numbers are decreasing (as long it is not caused by people avoiding testing). Another factor that probably layers in here is that students may be arriving with a different baseline level of infection based on their local communities during the break. Again, this does not necessarily mean that they are spreading at that rate, but simply that the lag in decrease will be at different rate than the local population. Time will tell, but this representation of the information, especially the headline, is more dismal than science.

  4. vhils says:

    I don’t love these numbers either (almost 20% of all UO-related cases since the beginning of the pandemic occurred in the last couple of weeks), but there’s a very obvious reason for the difference – most of these UO students traveled home in December, many to California, and then returned to Eugene in early January. The increased numbers of cases in the dorms is largely a result of the spread from (probably) asymptomatic cases that are being caught by testing either after they’ve already passed it on to other students, or aren’t being caught because testing simply doesn’t catch every case, especially true for the nose-swab that MAP uses.

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