Randomly selected COVID-19 tests now reflected in ASU data

Active COVID-19 cases among employees and students have decreased by 97 to a total of 263

The University has begun displaying the random COVID-19 testing results within the ASU community, an update posted online by the University Monday night showed.

Since Aug. 27, when the random testing began, ASU has conducted 4,355 tests among off-campus students, with 80 testing positive; 1,921 tests have been conducted among on-campus students, with 62 testing positive; and 1,925 tests have been conducted among employees, with eight testing positive.

The update also displays the percent positivity rate among the three groups that were randomly tested. Off-campus students have a percent positivity rate of 1.84%, on-campus students have a percent positivity rate of 3.23% and employees have a percent positivity rate of 0.4%.

These numbers will be updated every Monday, the update said. The update also includes the results of the random testing from Sept. 13-19. 

Over 3,500 people have been tested over that time span, with 36 off-campus students and 29 on-campus students testing positive. The percent positivity rate among off-campus students has decreased, but the rate among on-campus students has begun to rise with a 3.46% positivity rate over the period.

Zero faculty have tested positive between those dates, according to the update.

There are 263 total active positive COVID-19 cases within the ASU community as of Sept. 20, according to the update. Active student cases have decreased to 260 and active employee cases have decreased to three. 

The total number of active cases dropped 97 since Thursday's update when the University reported 360 total active positives. 

There are 163 cases off campus in the metropolitan Phoenix area and 83 in isolation on the Tempe campus. The other 14 student cases are in isolation on the Downtown Phoenix, West and Polytechnic campuses. The University has yet to publicly report if there have been any coronavirus-related hospitalizations or deaths among students and employees.

Since Aug. 1, there have been 1,670 known positives among students and 31 employees, a total of 1,701 ASU community members. The cumulative student positive case number has increased by 91 since Thursday's update.

ASU has collected approximately 60,955 tests since Aug. 1 from students and employees. If someone takes a test outside of ASU's testing, it is only recommended they report the results to the University, per the University coronavirus FAQ page

The school community's percent positivity rate stands at roughly 2.7% when using the number of cumulative cases as the numerator and the number of tests as the denominator. 

The University is calculating the percentage of student and employee populations that are confirmed positive, using the number of active positives as the numerator and student or employee population as the denominator. The confirmed positive rate among students stands at 0.3% and the rate among employees stands at 0.02%.

The University reported Monday 1,604 students and 151 employees had been rolled off the positive case number after meeting benchmarks to return to campus. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that influence University policy do not require those who test positive for the virus to test negative before rejoining their communities. 

The CDC went back to previous guidance on the transmission of the virus Monday, clarifying the coronavirus is "spread through close contact from person-to-person." This update removed language that the virus has airborne spread and said instead there are other ways it can be contracted even with six feet of distance. 

Last week, internal tracking of Arizona Department of Health Services zip code data done by The State Press showed cases in the 85281 zip code, where the Tempe campus is located, had decreased by more than 300 cases. 

Holly Poynter, an ADHS spokesperson, said cases reflected in zip code data were based on a primary residence address but the address information could be updated later.  

"Sometimes this won't be identified until later in an investigation because the 'home address' is often used on things like insurance," Poynter wrote in an email. "Since some ASU students live on campus and others commute, it may take some time to identify the most accurate residential address."

Additionally, Poynter said the department had received a large upload of test results that created some duplicate cases they are now working to remove but had previously caused some fluctuations in data. 

ADHS reported an increase of 233 positive COVID-19 cases and two more deaths in Arizona Monday, bringing the state total to 214,251 cases and 5,478 deaths. 

As of Monday, there have been 2,664 cases in the 85281 zip code according to ADHS zip code data.

On Friday, the University announced instruction would take place remotely after Thanksgiving break. Final exams and fall commencement will take place virtually. 


Reach the reporters at pjhanse1@asu.edu and wmyskow@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen and @wmyskow on Twitter. 

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