MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) - Students are heading into their first full day of new coronavirus restrictions as UW-Madison leaders try to curb the spread on campus. 

Monday, almost eight percent of UW-Madison students tested had COVID-19. Officials said undergraduate students are a big part of the spread. 

Data shows coronavirus is rarely present in the university’s grad students and staff. Only 24 total have tested positive. 

Meanwhile, almost all the spread is among undergraduate students. The UW-Madison coronavirus dashboard shows 97 percent of all positive cases are students. 

“In particular, I am asking all undergraduates to avoid social gatherings. These are the major cause of the spread we have seen,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. 

“At that age, you're just not thinking long-term. You're thinking of immediate gratification… that’s a gross oversimplification and generalization of that age group,” Dr. Nasia Safdar laughed. Safdar is the Director of Infection Control for UW Health. “There are many people who are not like that. But I think that that's what we've noticed.”

To try to slow the spread, the university has instituted a two-week restriction period. Some of the restrictions are system changes, making them universal and mandatory to all students. 

Some of those system changes include canceling social events, not allowing visitors in residence halls, switching union dining to carryout-only, and closing gyms. 

However, some of the “restrictions” are really just requests of undergraduate students. Blank’s message to them asked them to only leave their housing for essential reasons, like classes and academics, getting tested or other medical care, working, buying food, exercising outdoors, and attending religious observances. 


Blank said in her statement that there’s little evidence of spread during academic activities, like attending classes, doing research or studying. 

Safdar hopes the restrictions make a difference in the long run. 

“Whether it works or not… we'll find out. I think it was the right thing to do.”

For the full statement and restrictions, click here.