Alabama Updates COVID Numbers, Over 1,000 Students Positive Since Returning

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Five days after the first results of the COVID-19 test were released, the University of Alabama revealed the second round on Friday night and the numbers are rising.

There were 481 positive tests among the students on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday UA announced just after 5 p.m. CT Friday. The updated figures show that 562 students tested positive from August 19 to August. 24. This means that 1,043 students have tested positive since resuming classes.

The updated dashboard shows that nine faculty / staff have tested positive since August 19.

In terms of seclusion space, 36.09% of beds are occupied after 19.78% on Monday.

The numbers were better at the other two AU campuses. UAB and UA-Huntsville have only had 10 positive tests each among students since August 19.

RELATED: Alabama re-entry COVID numbers were low, so why the spike?

The Friday night news followed another hectic week on the Tuscaloosa campus, grappling with how to handle the growing number of cases.

The town of Tuscaloosa closed bars for two weeks after images of crowded establishments were linked to the rapid spread. A third dormitory has been cleared of residents to create more quarantine space at Burke West Residence Hall above the 450 beds already on campus.

Alabama President Stuart Bell wrote to students on Sunday saying the increase in positive cases was “unacceptable” as they were working to keep in-person learning an option for the fall semester. Mayor Walt Maddox’s bar closing decree came the next day.

The school offered testing at the Coleman Coliseum for symptomatic students or those exposed to someone with the coronavirus. Bell said they would have the capacity to test up to 1,000 students per day in the arena that houses Alabama’s basketball and gymnastics programs.

Tuscaloosa DCH Hospital reported that there were 55 inpatients treated for COVID-19 on Friday – its lowest total in August when it took a look at 106 on August 4. The hospital does not record the age or affiliation of those treated.

A few other top schools released figures Friday that provide context for Alabama’s workload. The University of Iowa has reported 607 positive tests among students since the start of classes on August 18, a day before the AU.

South Carolina has 553 active cases among college students, with 12.7% of those tested Wednesday and Thursday coming back positive.

UAB infectious disease expert Dr Michael Saag said on Thursday the rapid rise after so few positive tests upon their return to campus is testament to the problem created by COVID-19.

“It reminds us of how very contagious the virus is and we are never really 100% sure,” Saag said. “And that’s going to require us to be vigilant every day to keep this virus at bay, because if we give it a chance to have a chance to infect, it will make the most of it.”

This message will be updated.

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @ByCasagrande Or on Facebook.

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