University of Alabama updates COVID testing efforts

COVID-19 cases on UA campus

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Rapid testing for COVID-19 has been used to identify and test University of Alabama students who may have been around other students who have tested positive for the past two weeks.

“We are testing students who are symptomatic and identified as close contact of positive cases both on and off campus,” said Dr. Richard Friend, Dean of UA’s College of Community Health Science.

Dr. Friend said so far, none of the more than 1000 students at the University of Alabama who have tested positive for coronavirus are being cared for at the hospital. Less than half of the available rooms on campus for COVID-19 positive students are being used at this time.

“We have been able to operate safely with these tools. We’re constantly refining our plans and I think the virus is dictating where we are and how we advance,” Friend continued.

Thirty-four people are dedicated to contact tracing that happens at the University when someone there tests positive. Dr. Friend is still concerned about large gatherings happening off-campus even though the city closed 29 bars at the school’s request to help slow the spread of the virus in the Tuscaloosa-area.

Sick or not, UA students play a role in keeping others safe.

“The 18 to 25 year-old group is not going to suffer much disease burden. But they will spread the virus and its incumbent upon every campus member, faculty, staff, students to practice these guidelines wherever they go,” Friend added.

Next week the University will begin sentinel testing. That means weekly testing between 2% and 4% of students, faculty and staff.

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