AU reports 52 total COVID-19 cases for the fall semester among nearly 7,000 tests

The University rolled out an updated COVID-19 dashboard at the beginning of semester

AU reports 52 total COVID-19 cases for the fall semester among nearly 7,000 tests

American University reported 19 new coronavirus cases in the University community from the third week of fall semester classes on Sept. 21.

AU administered 2,476 tests between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, according to its new COVID-19 Dashboard, for an on-campus test positivity rate of 0.36 percent. The University will update the dashboard every Tuesday during the semester, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email to the community on Sept. 7. 

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 0.36 percent positivity rate is based only on nine of the 19 positive tests 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 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 59,563 cases in the District as of Sept. 17. 

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 Sept. 2, AU instituted a wave of testing across four residence halls after two students tested positive for coronavirus. AU notified 265 students of mandatory testing beyond those who came into close contact with the infected, Bennett wrote in an email to The Eagle on Sept. 3. 

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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