AU reports 72 COVID-19 cases for the spring semester among 7,313 tests

The University updated its testing dashboard, which now breaks down faculty, staff and student cases and testing

AU reports 72 COVID-19 cases for the spring semester among 7,313 tests

Update: This story will be updated regularly throughout the semester, as the University reports cases.

American University reported 10 coronavirus cases within the University community on March 1, bringing the total number of reported cases for the spring semester to 72. 

The number of reported cases among faculty and staff, off-campus students, and residential students during the week of Feb. 22 is identical to figures reported during the previous week. However, AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess said March 1 that the reported figures are accurate.

“Everyone needs to continue to wear face coverings, maintain physical distance, and not interact with others without a mask,” Burgess told The Eagle in a Feb. 8 email. “Those are the fundamental safety measures that will help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

On March 1, AU reported one case among faculty and staff, nine among off-campus students and none among on-campus students. In total, the University administered 1,607 tests during the week of Feb. 22.

AU’s Athletic department announced a 10-day department-wide shutdown on Feb. 5, after a “slight increase” in the COVID-19 positivity rate, The Eagle reported. Burgess said those positives are included in the University community tally.

“Those who test positive are being advised immediately on health and safety measures and those who may be exposed are subject to immediate quarantine,” Burgess wrote Feb. 8. “Also, we have instituted the practice of affiliate contact tracing as an additional means to reduce the spread, which supplements the efforts of the DC Department of Health.”

She also said AU’s testing lab checks samples twice to try to avoid false positives.

AU released an overhauled COVID-19 dashboard on Feb. 1, erasing previous data that showed aggregate positive test results and replacing it with results broken down by total cases, cases among faculty and staff, off-campus students and on-campus students. 

Between Jan. 25 and Jan. 31, 12 positive cases were reported — the highest number AU reported publicly at the time since the 16 confirmed cases during the week of Sept. 14. In addition, the new dashboard shows the total number of new tests administered and how they were divided among the three groups.

The dashboard does not indicate whether or not students who tested positive initially came for asymptomatic testing. 

According to the site, AU will update the results every Monday, following the same schedule as the fall semester. 

Over the fall semester, total confirmed cases reached 41, according to an Eagle tally. That information is no longer accessible on the dashboard. 

With AU planning to bring back approximately 1,250 students for a mid-semester residential experience, the University administration has announced plans to increase testing and health and safety protocols to handle the additional campus presence. Students on campus are required to get tested twice weekly, with those visiting campus infrequently held to less stringent requirements. 

“We are excited to provide this opportunity to strengthen the communities that students have been forming and building so creatively this year,” President Sylvia Burwell wrote in an email to the community when AU announced the residential experience. “While American University will continue dynamic virtual engagements in the months ahead, we look forward to this next phase of our return to campus as we ramp up for summer and fall.”

This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

dpapscun@theeagleonline.com, saustin@theeagleonline.com

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