From Aug. 23-29, the second week of fall classes, 360 Auburn students or employees reported testing positive for COVID-19, according to the University’s COVID-19 Resource Center.
That number marks a decrease from the first week of the fall semester, during which 424 positive cases were reported to the University.
All students and employees are required to report positive COVID-19 tests to the University, which uses that data to contact trace and get an idea of how severe the spread of the virus is on campus. Self-reported data includes those reports submitted by students, faculty, staff and third-party contractors working on campus who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, encouraged students to get tested if they feel symptoms of COVID-19 or know they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
“At this point we just want people to be tested because we’re not going to get our hands around the transmission and spread if people don’t know their status,” Kam said in a COVID-19 Resource Center video update. “If they don’t know their status, they don’t know if they should be isolating or quarantining.”
At the Medical Clinic, 122 of 701 COVID tests performed returned a positive result for a 17% positivity rate, 4.5 percentage points lower than the previous week.
It’s important to note that the Medical Clinic’s data is separate from the data reported by the University’s COVID-19 Resource Center. University data is the collection of all self-reported tests by students and employees, who may get tested at locations besides the Med Clinic. The Med Clinic also tests patients from the community who are unaffiliated with the University, which get included in their data.
Quarantine and isolation housing
Students in on-campus housing who have tested positive are required to either leave campus or move into isolation housing in Hall M in the Hill for 10 days. An average of 22 residents were in isolation housing per day last week.
On-campus residents who were exposed to someone with COVID but have not tested positive themselves are required to quarantine. Residents in the Hill, Cambridge and Quad residence halls are relocated to quarantine housing in Hall M, which is separate from isolation housing, while residents in 160 Ross, the Village and South Donahue residence halls are able to quarantine in place in their assigned room.
Less than one resident per day was in quarantine housing last week on average, while an average of 13.5 residents were quarantining in place per day last week.
In July, the University launched a vaccine incentive program that offers students a chance at winning prizes like unlimited meal plans, A-zone parking passes and $1,000 scholarships.
For a chance to win, students register for the program online. Although no proof of vaccination is required to register, winners of the prizes are required to provide proof of vaccination.
As of Monday, 5,830 students have registered for the incentive program, Peyton Alsobrook, development officer of Student Affairs and Auburn University Advancement, told The Plainsman. The number of students registered for the incentive program increased by 700 since last week.
That means that roughly 18-19% of students have registered for the incentive program, assuming that total enrollment remains roughly the same as last year. (Exact enrollment statistics are not released until later in the semester.)
There is currently not an accurate way to determine the exact percentage of the student population is vaccinated, as the University does not record if a student has been vaccinated. Other universities, such as the University of Alabama system, ask students and faculty to report if they have received the vaccine, allowing them to compile student and employee vaccination data.
The Med Clinic has distributed 16,426 doses of the vaccine as of Tuesday, although those doses have not only gone to students and employees, but also retirees and dependents of employees as part of Phase III of the University's vaccine rollout.
In Lee County, 43.9% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 36.4% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
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Evan Mealins, senior in philosophy and economics, is the editor-in-chief of The Auburn Plainsman.