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Covering Coronavirus

AU reports 202 new COVID-19 cases, one self-reported hospitalization this week

The University reports 381 total cases during the fall semester

The data in this article was last updated Dec. 21.

American University reported 202 new coronavirus cases in the University community from the last week of the fall semester on Dec. 21.

AU administered 3,297 tests between Dec. 13 and Dec. 19, according to its new COVID-19 Dashboard, for an on-campus test positivity rate of 5.31 percent. This marks the highest amount of positive cases this semester and the highest amount of tests administered in a single week. 

AU’s weekly percentage of positive tests is calculated using only on-campus tests, according to Matthew Bennett, AU’s chief communications officer. That means that its reported 1.01 percent positivity rate is based on only 19 of the 28 positive cases listed.

“Self-reported positive tests that were taken off campus (with a primary care provider, for example), are not part of the positivity rate,” Bennett wrote in an email to The Eagle. “Since we don’t know how many total tests were taken off campus, there is no way to compute the rate inclusive of self-reported positives.”

The University reported the first hospitalization this semester last week. 

The University will update the dashboard every Tuesday during the semester, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email to the community on Sept. 7. 

The dashboard is similar to the reporting system AU utilized in the spring, although it lacks testing and positivity data broken down among on-campus students, off-campus students and faculty and staff. 

According to the D.C. government’s coronavirus dashboard, there were 71,219 total cases in the District as of Dec. 16. 

No members of the community have been hospitalized by the pandemic this week. That data is self-reported, according to the dashboard.

“We expected and are prepared for COVID cases, and the existence of cases is not cause for alarm,” Burwell wrote in her Sept. 7 email. “The data indicates that most breakthrough cases are not severe, and if we continue to follow our health and safety measures, we can limit the spread and support our friends and colleagues who do test positive. With the conclusion of the Labor Day holiday and increases in travel, a growth in cases is expected over the next few weeks.”

On Nov. 16, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans to lift the current mask mandate beginning Nov. 22. The announcement outlined continuing mask mandates in certain settings, like public transportation, schools and childcare facilities, congregate and correctional facilities, certain government facilities and private businesses who choose to require masks inside.

Total cases reached 177 during the spring semester, according to an Eagle tally. That data was erased when AU updated the dashboard for the fall semester.

“Every member of our community has a responsibility to our health and safety, and we are taking that seriously,” Burwell wrote. “When I see people on quad, in classes, and in the residence halls coming together to learn and build community in a safe way, it is clear that we are each doing our part.”

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

dpapscun@theeagleonline.com and cmulroy@theeagleonline.com 


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