Auburn University saw 24 self-reported COVID-19 cases between March 22-28 from students, faculty and staff per the latest data from the University's COVID-19 Resource Center. All 24 cases came from Auburn's main campus.
This is the largest increase in self-reported cases since the week of Feb. 8-14, when 32 new cases were reported.
The University conducted 467 COVID tests through its sentinel testing program from March 22-28 which returned a 0.2% overall positivity rate. The previous four weeks saw no positive test results from sentinel testing.
During the week of March 22-28, there were an average of 0 students staying in quarantine housing, while an average of 2.5 students were placed in isolation housing. The University saw no students in either type of on-campus housing the previous two weeks.
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The University continues to receive new doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 13,900 shipped received to date as of March 29. A total of 6,616 first doses of vaccine have been administered to the campus community, while 5,260 second doses have been administered.
There were a total of 208 COVID-19 tests taken at the Auburn University Medical Clinic with 10 returning a positive result, or a 4.8% positivity rate. The clinic received 2,391 phone calls throughout the week.
Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Medical Clinic, began his latest COVID-19 update positively, saying the number of cases in the last week was "below the level we want it at." He noted this is true of all Lee County, though not all of Alabama.
As some states around the country have loosened COVID restrictions, Kam said there are over 24 states with a 10% or greater rise in positive cases compared to earlier weeks in the year. He said he feels that loosening restrictions is "probably not a good idea right now" as the Easter weekend approaches.
For those planning on visiting family for Easter, Kam said people should be aware of who they invite to gatherings and how many people will be in attendance. Aside from observing COVID recommendations, he advised those traveling to consider getting tested for the coronavirus before they leave town.
"I would try to keep it only to family gatherings and not go beyond that," Kam said. "The smaller you keep your unit, the less likely it is you'll either pick [COVID-19] up or spread it as the case may be."
With allergy season in full swing, he said it can be easy to confuse allergies with COVID symptoms and that many COVID-positive patients at the Med Clinic last week thought they simply had allergies.
Kam recommended that people continue wearing face coverings after receiving their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, unless in their own household. He said that in Auburn as well as around the country, people who have received both the first and second doses have still contracted COVID-19 within the two-week cutoff of when the doses are estimated to take maximum effect after vaccination.
"Two weeks is the cutoff, take that into account but still continue to wear masks and sanitize," Kam said. "I've been vaccinated fully since January [and] I still wear masks all the time."
Kam said COVID-19 transmission has not been observed in the University's classrooms. He attributed this to students' delayed return to face-to-face learning after a spike in cases during the winter season. Additionally, he said he feels students and faculty have been diligent in wearing masks and distancing indoors.
"There was some concerns early on because of where we were in a spike; that's why we delayed in-person classes and delayed the return of employees to Auburn," Kam said. "At this point in time, we are well past the halfway mark of the semester and heading into the home stretch, but this is not [the] time to give up."
Locally, vaccines have become more widely available in locations like pharmacies, Walmart and Sam's Club, Kam said. He said he is regularly hearing about an increasing number of people finding vaccination sites and encouraged people who have not received their first dose to seek these sites out.
"Unless there's a reason why you shouldn't, like you're within 90 days of [testing positive for] COVID or getting monoclonal antibodies, go ahead and get it," he said. "There's nothing special about getting it at Auburn, so don't wait for Auburn University to get doses."
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