In any other year, many would consider the connectedness of the Newark community and the university as an overall positive for both parties.
However, with the potential for student COVID-19 cases to spread into the surrounding Newark community via restaurants and other community resources, this relationship has become more complicated.
Based on the reporting of Newark COVID-19 cases on the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) website, the City of Newark seemed to experience a spike in cases at the end of February that mirrored the university’s spike.
On March 3, the DHSS website reported a high of 44.7 average cases per day. On Feb. 26, the city saw the highest number of actual cases in a 90-day period, with 76 new positive cases that day.
In that same window, the university saw its spike of 324 cases the week of Feb. 21.
It is important to keep in mind when comparing Newark and university COVID-19 data that the Newark COVID-19 data does include university students who live within the city limits and does not include those who do not.
“The University of Delaware reports all test results to the Delaware Division of Public Health [DPH],” Jim Lee, the community relations officer at the Department of National Resources and Environmental Control, wrote in an email. “However, not all cases associated with the University may fall within the 19711 ZIP Code. Students may live off campus or are remote and may fall within zip codes outside 19711 where the campus is located. Therefore, it would not be accurate to equate all University of Delaware cases to 19711, or even to the City of Newark if individuals live outside of city limits.”
Lee also noted that the timing of when the cases are reported to DPH and processed for statistical reporting may lead to differences in reporting for specific dates between the university’s COVID-19 dashboard and the state’s.
Nonetheless, the city and the university seem to be experiencing similar trends in COVID-19 cases — recently, with the decline in cases in the past couple of weeks.
The average of new positive cases per day has been steadily decreasing in the city since the March 3 peak. As of March 18, the average number of cases per day is 13.3. Similarly, in the week of March 14, the university reported 56 new positive cases, down from 113 the previous week.
The City has been acting under the Emergency Ordinance No. 20-07 since Nov. 23 to manage cases. This ordinance prevents indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 20.
Although the university seems to be recovering from its COVID-19 spike and the Newark police reported a “relatively quiet” St. Patrick’s Day, the City Council has not indicated that these ordinances will change any time soon.