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About 4 percent of Auburn University students tested positive for COVID-19 during re-entry testing
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About 4 percent of Auburn University students tested positive for COVID-19 during re-entry testing

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Auburn University first day of class 2020

A student walks on Auburn's campus on Monday. Auburn University students returned to campus Monday for the first day of class. Facemasks are required in all campus buildings. The university is also putting several other health precautions and recommendations in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four percent of Auburn University students tested positive for COVID-19 during the university’s student reentry testing period.

Auburn had a total of 859 positive tests of 21,315 administered, which yields a 4.03 percent positivity rate, the university said Thursday in a news release.

The majority of those who tested positive for the virus were either asymptomatic or exhibited extremely mild symptoms. Many of the positive cases were identified in students who were not on campus.

The university said it took immediate action to quarantine and isolate the positive cases that were found on campus as part of the “A Healthier U” re-entry plan.

“These numbers show we had a low positivity rate among our students as they returned to campus,” Dr. Fred Kam, Auburn’s Medical Clinic director, said. “Through continued mitigation efforts and everyone’s help in being proactive we aim to keep these numbers low.”

Re-entry testing for the university ended on Aug. 21 and began several weeks earlier. COVID-19 testing was required as part of Alabama’s GuideSafe platform in tandem with the university’s re-entry plan. The tests were free.

New cases

Auburn University reported 202 students and five employees tested positive for the virus between Aug. 18-21.

“Not unlike other campuses throughout the nation, Auburn anticipated that its COVID-19 positive case numbers would likely increase as students returned for the fall semester,” Kam said. “The majority of students who tested positive had not attended any in-person classes, and the few who did were all wearing masks and had been socially distancing.”

Kam added that no hospitalizations were required among the new cases reported.

“We will closely monitor the number of positive cases in a proactive way that helps guide university policy with the health and well-being of the Auburn community always the top priority,” Kam said.

The university also announced Tuesday night it is limiting all in-person gatherings to no more than 50 people. Bobby Woodard, senior vice president of Student Affairs, asks for students to do their part in helping keep the school’s COVID-19 numbers down.

“If we are going to preserve on-campus education, we have to be all-in, both on and off campus," Woodard said. "One night out in a crowd is not worth the potential consequences the entire campus will face if the virus continues to spread in our community. We must be vigilant in doing our part for the common good. This will not be forever.”

Auburn University students are required to do a daily Healthceck self-screen for virus symptoms before coming to campus. The university also plans to begin sentinel testing the week after Labor Day where students, faculty and staff will be randomly selected to voluntarily.

“We are committed to prioritize the safety and well-being of our campus community,” Kam said. “And as the early GuideSafe™ reentry test results give us a good snapshot of our starting point, we know ongoing monitoring is essential as is the support of our community in following the needed safeguards of our A Healthier U plan to be on a good path toward a safer and successful fall semester.”

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