Hundreds more students and staff members at the University of Alabama have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week, Clarissa-Jan Lim of Buzzfeed News wrote on Sunday. From Tuesday to Thursday of last week, the school saw more than 481 news cases. In total, more than 1,200 students and 166 employees tested positive.
Classes began on Aug. 19, and after testing, Alabama officials said the rate for student re-entry positives was around 1 percent. Two days after classes began, Alabama announced a 14-day ban on social gatherings. The ban included off-campus parties and fraternity and sorority meetings.
University of Alabama President Stuart Bell went public with an admonishment of the student body in a statement. He criticized them for not following university guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body,” Bell said in the statement.
Five days after school started, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox ordered all city bars to close for two weeks. The closure was in direct response to the rise of cases on Alabama’s campus.
The university’s president said the explosion in COVID-19 infections has put the ability to finish the academic calendar in question. According to Lim, he continued to condemn what he called irresponsible behavior on the part of those attending the institution in the middle of a pandemic.
The college’s problems dealing with the novel coronavirus are creating issues throughout the state.
Alabama had 123,889 coronavirus cases entering Sunday, as well as 2,152 deaths. Tuscaloosa County, where the college is located, has recorded more than 5,000 positives, according to the state Public Health Department’s official website.
While infections continue to rise in the area, Bell and other officials are focusing on getting students to wear face masks and take other precautions to tamp down the spread of the virus. They are also encouraging everyone to adhere to social distancing standards beyond limiting the size of gatherings. Alabama officials are asking people who might have come in contact with someone who is infected to stay away from others for the appropriate amount of time.
Leaders at the school haven’t yet commented as to how the rise in COVID-19 positives could affect the fall sports season. The Southeastern Conference’s football schedule kicks off on September 26. Alabama and other SEC programs will be playing a conference only schedule this season.
For now, at least the schedule seems unaffected by the problems on the Alabama campus.