According to data from John Hopkins University at the time of this writing on November 16th, the COVID-19 positivity rate in the U.S. was 9.8%.
Testing.com conducted its survey of 1,000 college students currently on-campus between November 3rd and November 8th. Our survey revealed 65% of current college students have gotten tested for COVID-19 since being on campus, while 34% have not, and 1% opted not to say.
Among that group of college students that have been tested for the virus, the positivity rate looked like this:
12% of college students have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus since returning to campus this fall, while 87% have not, and 2% preferred not to reveal the results of their tests.
While this 12% positivity rate on college campuses is close to the same as the current U.S. positivity rate, it’s important to remember the timing of our survey.
When our survey was conducted, between November 3rd and November 8th, the U.S. positivity rate was hovering around 6.5% according to John Hopkins, which is why we are saying the COVID-19 positivity rate on college campuses appears to be nearly double the country’s overall positivity rate.
If we were to conduct this survey again today, it would be reasonable to predict the college positivity rate has risen closer to around 20%, which would be more in line with the current 9.8% positivity rate the country is facing.
Interestingly enough however, our positivity rate did jump to nearly 20% when we broke down the results further…
According to our survey, 48% of current college students that are on campus this fall indicated they have been going to parties “that would be conducive to spreading the COVID-19 virus and/or don’t follow social distancing guidelines put in place by local authorities.”
Meanwhile 49% of respondents have not partaken in normal college festivities, while 3% opted not to answer the question.
But among that first cohort, check out how the COVID-19 positivity rate spikes.
When it comes to the COVID-19 positivity rate on college campuses this fall, there is an increase of eight percentage points when only accounting for students that have been going to parties despite social distancing guidelines.
It was always going to be a losing battle to contain youthful college students on campus this fall, and the data from our survey shows they are far more likely to catch and spread the COVID-19 virus when attending social events at their respective institutions.
With Halloween not too far behind us and the data proving a college student is nearly two times as likely to catch the virus when attending a party on campus, the fear is that the COVID-19 fall surge on college campuses is just getting underway and will become much worse in the coming days and weeks.
It’s worth noting that among the 48% that have been going to parties on campus, 67% have been tested for the COVID-19 virus since returning to school, while 33% have not.
It’s also worth noting that when all 1,000 current college students were asked what they would do if they went to a party on campus that was later discovered to have attendees who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, 66% indicated they would “get tested and self-quarantine until the results came back.”
Here’s how the other students answered…
And by clicking one tab to the right, you can see how the results differed when only accounting for college students that have already been to a party or social event on campus.
For example, just 61% from this cohort said they would get tested and self-quarantine, while 23% would do the former but not the latter, and 7% wouldn’t do either.
Ultimately, containing the spread of the deadly virus on college campuses will come down to the students and faculty themselves, and we asked students to grade their campuses…
When we asked all 1,000 college students if they think their respective higher education institutions are doing a good job at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, here’s what we found…
The vast majority of college students currently on campus, 73%, believe their respective institutions have “implemented effective and strict policies to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus” on campus, while 23% do not believe this is true, and 5% preferred not to say either way.
And when we asked our poll participants to rate their college’s staff from one (terrible) to ten (excellent) in terms of how they’ve been when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus on campus, the average score was 7.11.
When students were then asked to rate themselves and their fellow students on campus when it comes to preventing COVID-19, the average score was a bit worse…6.80.
While there’s always room for improvement, it’s at least encouraging to see college students believe their campuses are working to prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus on campus.
Them doing so will be imperative to combatting the fall surge that has the potential to really explode on college campuses where the virus is much more likely to spread according to our data discussed earlier in the report.
As a final component of this survey, we thought it would be interesting to compare how college students think about COVID-19 on campus versus sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), as the latter has historically been the greatest biological fear on college campuses before this most-recent global pandemic.
For example, we found 65% of current college students have been tested for the COVID-19 virus since arriving back on campus this fall, while just 36% have been tested for an STD since returning to school this academic year.
See the charts below to see the results from the rest of these comparisons…
While 71% of college students were more concerned about catching the novel coronavirus, just 22% were more concerned over catching an STD. 63% of college students also think their campuses are more cautious about the spread of COVID-19 compared to just 27% who thought their campuses are more worried about spreading STDs.
However, 52% of college students would rather catch the novel coronavirus over an STD compared to the 28% that would prefer contracting an STD over COVID-19.
So while college students currently on campus might fear the repercussions of an STD more than those from COVID-19, they still think it is more important today to test and prevent the spread of COVID-19 which goes to show that even they realize the gravity of today’s unprecedented situation.
With this mindset, there is still hope that college campuses can do their part in limiting the fall surge of the novel coronavirus throughout the country.
Testing.com commissioned Pollfish, an online survey platform, to conduct this survey of 1,000 current undergraduate college students that are currently on-campus for in-person learning. A screener question was used to find the desired respondents. This survey was conducted from November 3, 2020, to November 8, 2020.
Q1: As a college student on campus, are you more concerned about catching the COVID-19 virus or an STD?
Q2. As a college student on campus, would you rather catch the COVID-19 virus or an STD?
Q3. As a college student on campus and through your interactions with other students on campus, do you think college students are more cautious about catching/spreading the COVID-19 virus or catching/spreading an STD?
Q4. Since being on campus, have you gone to any social events/parties that would be conducive to spreading the COVID-19 virus and/or don’t follow social distancing guidelines put in place by your local government (i.e. partygoers not wearing masks, sharing drinks, etc.)?
Q5: Since being on campus, have you gotten tested for the COVID-19 virus?
Q6: (If “Yes” to Q5) What was the result of the COVID-19 test?
Q7: Since being on campus this academic year, have you gotten tested for an STD?
Q8: As a college student on campus, do you think it’s more important to get tested for the COVID-19 virus or an STD?
Q9: Do you think your college has implemented effective and strict policies to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus on your campus?
Q10: If you went to a social event/party on your campus that was later discovered to have had people there that since tested positive for COVID-19, would you immediately get tested for the virus and/or self-quarantine?
Q11: On a scale from 1 (terrible) to 10 (excellent), how would you rate how you and your fellow students on campus have been in terms of preventing the virus and preventing its spread?
Q12: On a scale from 1 (terrible) to 10 (excellent), how would you rate how your college/university and its staff have been in terms of preventing the virus and preventing its spread?