The University of Alabama is reporting a rising number of coronavirus cases within its student population after starting its fall semester last week.
According to data from the school's COVID-19 dashboard released on Friday, an additional 492 students tested positive for the novel coronavirus from Aug. 25 and 27, bringing the total of student cases since August 19, which is when fall semester started, to 1,063 and since January 1 to 1,368.
Out of the new cases, 481 were reported from the school's main campus in the main campus in Tuscaloosa, nine were reported from the campus in Birmingham and two were reported from the Hunstville campus.
During the same timespan, an additional 51 coronavirus cases were reported within faculty and staff from across three campuses.
None of the students who tested positive for COVID-19 have been hospitalized, according to a press release from the school.
The university said that only 29.5 percent of its designated isolation space are currently being occupied.
"Fortunately, our isolation occupancy is below capacity, and the number will be adjusted as students complete the isolation period," UA System Chancellor Finis St. John said in a statement. "We are closely monitoring our data daily, and we will continue to adjust operations as the situation warrants."
Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences at UA, added that there has been "no evidence of virus transmission due to in-person class instruction."
"We remain satisfied that the precautions implemented prior to the resumption of classes – including masking, distancing, and a blend of in-person and remote instruction – are appropriate and effective," Friend said in a statement.
Earlier this week, UA President Stuart Bell said student behavior was not to blame for the surge in cases.
"Our challenge is not the students," Bell said during a press conference on Monday, according to AL.com. "Our challenge is the virus and there’s a difference, folks. What we have to do is identify where does the virus thrive and where does the virus spread and how can we work together with our students, with our faculty and with our staff to make sure that we minimize those places, those incidents."
"It’s not student behavior, okay? It’s how do we have protocols so that we make it to where our students can be successful, and we can minimize the impact of the virus," he added.
UA joins a growing list of other colleges across the nation struggling with virus containment this fall. Last week, Notre Dame halted in-person classes for two weeks following a surge of COVID-19 cases just eight days after beginning its fall semester. Similarly, an Oklahoma State University sorority is under quarantine after 23 members tested positive for the respiratory illness days before the start of the fall semester.
As of Friday, there have been more than 5,916,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 181,300 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to a New York Times database.
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