UA reports 200+ COVID cases this week, releases first sentinel numbers

UA+reports+200%2B+COVID+cases+this+week%2C+releases+first+sentinel+numbers

The UA System reported 244 positive COVID-19 test results among UA students in its second weekly dashboard update of the semester, bringing the total number of reported student cases to about 450 since classes resumed on Jan. 13. 

Since Jan. 22, 17 faculty and staff have reported positive test results, a slight dip from last week. 

Occupancy of on-campus isolation spaces rose to about 13%, meaning 66 of the more than 500 available spaces were used this week.

In the first sentinel testing update of the new semester, the University tested 829 people with a 3% positivity rate. The University met its goal of testing at least 2.5% of the campus population in one week.

This is the highest number of sentinel tests conducted in one week since the inception of the sentinel testing program in the fall. The previous record was 642 in the final week of the fall semester. 

The University announced plans to revamp its sentinel testing program as it rolled back entry testing efforts. In the fall, all students were required to submit a negative test result before returning to campus. Entry testing for the spring semester was only mandated for on-campus students. 

In its Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan, the University outlined plans to increase sentinel testing efforts for the first three weeks of the spring semester, offering incentives like gift cards and BamaCash. No sentinel test results were reported for the first week of the spring semester. 

Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope credits the sentinel testing program’s higher turnout to its internal approach. The program is now coordinated with University Medical Center and the UA Student Health Center instead of Guidesafe.  

“We felt like we could do it more effectively than a third party,” Pope said. 

Today, he lessened restrictions following a two-week long moratorium on student activities, which allows non-social events to resume on Feb. 1. Pope said they hope to bring back social events the week of Feb. 15, but the decision will be driven by data.