UArizona Sees Improvement in COVID-19 Numbers, Compliance

September 29, 2020
The number of positive test results on campus decreased following a 14-day shelter-in-place recommendation.

TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona has seen fewer cases of COVID-19 and better compliance with public health measures following several outreach efforts and a 14-day shelter-in-place recommendation for students living on or near campus, President Robert C. Dr. Robbins, MD, said Monday.

The shelter-in-place recommendation, announced by the university and Pima County on Sept. 14, is set to end Tuesday but may be reinstated if case numbers begin to rise again, Dr. Robbins said.

Students don face coverings while on campus on the first day of classes, Aug. 24. Though most classes began in an online format, about 5,000 students attended This is not a time for complacence, he stressed.

“Recommendations for face coverings, physical distancing and other measures will continue to be the hallmark of our success,” he said. “I encourage all of you – students, faculty, staff and other members of our southern Arizona community, including visitors to our campus – to continue following the rules so that we can protect one another and move forward,” he said.

The university will continue to offer most classes in an online format through at least Oct. 5, with only essential courses held in person.

The university also continues to offer testing for students and employees, with capacity to administer 1,600 nasal-swab antigen tests a day and to process samples from 1,700 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests per week. Students and employees can register for testing online.

The Latest Numbers

Campus Reentry Task Force Director Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, the 17th U.S. surgeon general and a distinguished professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, presented the most recent testing data, from Friday, which showed 36 new positives out of 1,051 new tests conducted by the university, for a positivity rate of 3.4%.

Of those tests, Dr. Carmona said:

  • Seventeen positives came from 89 PCR tests conducted at Campus Health. Those 17 positives included eight dorm students, eight off-campus students and one employee.
  • Nineteen positives came from the university’s Test All, Test Smart antigen testing program, from 962 total tests. Those 19 positives included 10 dorm students, eight off-campus students and one employee.

Testing numbers are updated nightly on the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

As of Friday evening, there were 252 students in isolation housing, with 348 beds still available. Another 43 dorm residents were isolating off campus, Dr. Robbins said.

Dr. Robbins said complaints about campus-area neighborhoods have declined in response to outreach and enforcement efforts carried out by the university in partnership with the community.

The Campus Area Response team, which responds to complaints of large gatherings and other concerns, responded to 13 properties on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, which was four fewer than the previous week. The team issued three Red Tags, 10 citations and 13 code of conduct referrals to the Dean of Students. That’s compared to 10 Red Tags, 19 citations and 25 code of conduct referrals the previous weekend.

“This is a real success. People are following the rules,” Dr. Robbins said. “We’re seeing less large gatherings off campus, in particular.”

Dr. Robbins also pointed to improvement in some of the external factors the university monitors. On Sunday, the number of COVID-19 inpatients in local hospitals decreased to 38, and the number in ICUs decreased to 12. Those numbers are close to the lowest numbers recorded – 36 and 11, respectively – since tracking began.

Continuing to follow public health guidelines will be critical for helping to keep numbers low, Dr. Robbins said.

“These improvements in case numbers and outcomes are coming from improved compliance,” Dr. Robbins said. “Washing your hands, covering your face (and) staying away from as many people as possible.”

Click here to view video from the Sept. 28, 2020, Campus Reentry Briefing on YouTube.

The UArizona Health Sciences COVID-19 Research webpage can be found here.

For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university’s COVID-19 webpage.

For UANews coverage of COVID-19, visit https://news.arizona.edu/news/covid19.

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A version of this article appeared originally on the UANews website.

NOTE: Image available upon request.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

About the University of Arizona
The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For more information: arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).