Auburn University reported adding 16 new COVID-19 cases this week, according to data released by the AU COVID-19 Resource Center on Tuesday afternoon. This past week, ending on Oct. 11, follows a trending decline in cases that began with the week ending Sept. 6.
All 16 cases were located on the main Auburn campus. The GuideSafe Sentinel Testing program conducted 399 tests, returning a 0.25% positivity rate. This is an increase over the 0.0% positivity rate during the week ending Oct. 4.
Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said he feels "really confident about where the numbers are" in a weekly update video from the University, but predicts another rise in cases before the end of the fall semester.
"I think that we can have a bit of an uptick or a spike starting in the next week or two and continuing definitely after Halloween," Kam said. "I hope that I'm wrong like I was wrong after Labor Day. It is all going to depend on personal accountability and what people do, how they act and what their interactions are that will determine how successful we are."
Nonetheless, Kam said he remains optimistic that the University will not need to transition to remote operations this semester like in the spring.
"I've gone on record as saying we're going to Nov. 24, [and] I feel no different," he said.
Kam provided an update on the current scientific knowledge of COVID-19, saying that the greatest period for spreading the virus is one day before symptoms appear.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
"Again, [this] stresses the point that most people are going to be spreading this before they know that they actually have it," Kam said. "Therefore it's important that you wear those masks, try to physically socially distance and sanitize your hands."
By following these recommended guidelines, Kam said the Auburn community should expect to see a continued decline as data has shown.
Kam said the University has been asked about the possibility of multiple COVID-19 strains circulating around Auburn, to which he responded may be possible, but is unknown.
"No one's really doing the degree of genetic study done to the actual strain," Kam said. "At the end of the day, the virus, regardless of whether it's an L-strain or an S-strain and which mutant variant that we're getting, it appears to be still as contagious, still as dysfunctional and still as surprising."
Kam said that people should be less concerned about strains and more focused on ensuring they do not contract COVID-19 and mitigating the spread of the virus.
For those seeking to travel home or travel for upcoming holidays, Kam urges people to consider their health 14 days ahead of time. Reducing social interactions and opportunities in this 14-day period is recommended, Kam said.
"If you've not had the virus, you can pick that virus up anywhere within a 14-day period and take it home," he said. "I keep stressing that a significant number of people, especially younger people, will be asymptomatic, so thinking 14 days are important."
Additionally, Kam said those traveling should schedule a COVID-19 test the day before or the day of their departure to ensure their results are current.
As flu season begins amid the pandemic, Kam revealed that there have been two cases of influenza recorded in the past week, which he said was a "surprise." The Med Clinic has performed around 700 flu shots but still has more than enough available, according to Kam.
"You can get it done at the clinic, or there are another two flu clinics being done in the Student Center again this week," Kam said. "Please consider getting the flu shot. It is clear that the flu virus is starting to circulate at a lower rate, but the more people that we get vaccinated, the less likelihood we will have of an outbreak of the flu."
Those seeking flu shots at the Student Center may receive them in room 2326 by Chick-fil-A from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman