Nine days into the semester, UA reports over 1,000 positive COVID-19 tests

Keely Brewer | @keelykbrewer, Assistant News Editor

UA reported 1,052 positive test results among students, faculty and staff since classes started on Aug. 19.

This information was published on Friday evening in the first update to the UA System COVID-19 Data Dashboard since initial testing results were posted on Monday, Aug. 24. 

Positive test results for students increased by 481 over a five-day period. Four faculty and staff members have tested positive in the same time, bringing their case count to nine. 

The cumulative figure includes positive tests identified through sentinel testing, point-of-care testing in campus health centers and self-reported tests from private providers. Entry testing results do not contribute to this number.

There are no officially reported COVID-related student hospitalizations throughout the UA System at this point. Isolation spaces on campus have reached 36.09% occupancy, nearly doubling since the dashboard’s last update five days earlier. 

On Aug. 5, the Board of Trustees approved a bid to relocate students from the Highlands and Bryce Lawn Apartments, two on-campus apartment complexes, to the Lofts at City Center to free up 450 beds for isolation on campus.

Six days into the fall semester, students in Burke West Residence Hall were given 24 hours notice to relocate to another residence on campus. This decision to consolidate Burke West residents into other housing facilities freed up new isolation spaces for students who test positive. 

This decision to relocate Burke West residents came days after UA Vice President for Student Life voiced concern for the increasing occupancy of on-campus isolation spaces. 

“If we increase at the rate we did this week, give us a week and a half and we’re going to be at full capacity,” Pope said.  

Amidst other changes and updates to UA’s plan, sentinel testing is set to start next week. 

“Significant efforts are underway currently to initiate sentinel testing next week at The University of Alabama,” GuideSafe Director Bob Phillips said. 

He said GuideSafe expects to test between 1,200 and 1,500 students per week. 

This contradicts the plan previously shared by Ricky Friend, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences. At last week’s press conference with UA President Stuart Bell and Mayor Walt Maddox, Friend said the University plans to test 1,000 students per day.

Sentinel testing will be mandatory for students living in residence halls or participating in UA sponsored extracurricular activities and encouraged for students outside these demographics.