President Crow addresses rising active COVID-19 cases within ASU community

ASU reported 449 active cases of the coronavirus within its community Monday

Active cases within the ASU community are continuing to rise along with the rest of the state, and President Michael Crow urged students and employees to "do everything in our power to keep ourselves and our families, friends and neighbors safe" in the coming weeks, he wrote in a University-wide email Monday night. 

According to an update Monday, the University reported 449 active cases within its community, an increase of seven since last Thursday. Student cases decreased by nine to 396, and faculty cases increased by 16 to 53 in total. 

"The impending holiday and graduation season, compounded by general pandemic fatigue, offer tempting opportunities to relax our virus mitigation efforts, but it is critical that we remain focused and steadfast in our protocols for the physical, social and economic health of our nation," Crow said in the email.

Since last week, Arizona's Rt number — representing the average number of people who become infected by another person —  has decreased slightly to 1.14. The state's 7-day average positive test rate has risen to 15.88%, according to data from the Biodesign Critical COVID-19 trends page.

There are 311 active cases among students off campus in the metropolitan Phoenix area, and 72 students are in isolation on the Tempe campus. The remaining 13 cases are on the Downtown Phoenix, West or Polytechnic campuses.

At a student forum Friday hosted by Undergraduate Student Government, Crow said, despite the rise in cases, "the ASU bus is still traveling" this semester.

"Positive cases are accelerating in our off-campus student body and our on-campus residence hall-based student body, as they are in the broader society," he said. ASU cases are not growing as much as they are in Arizona, he said, but the increase "is still a concern."

Crow said the University believes its recent increase in COVID-19 cases "is manageable," and its concern is ensuring everyone completes their daily health check, complies with the random testing program, gets tested if they are experiencing any symptoms and follow all health guidelines. Doing "all of those things allow the virus to be managed," he said.

The University has collected approximately 124,622 tests from students and employees since Aug. 1. According to the update, it has tested 77% of on-campus students and 39% of off-campus students.

Random test results from Nov. 9-15 show seven on-campus students tested positive, resulting in a positivity rate of 1.71%. Off-campus students who were selected for random testing returned 18 positives, resulting in a positivity rate of 1.64%. Zero employees tested positive through random testing during that period.

Internal tracking of Arizona Department of Health Services ZIP code data of the ZIP codes with ASU campuses — 85281, 85004, 85306 and 85212 along with the 85282 ZIP code in Tempe — done by The State Press shows cumulative cases have increased by 416 since Thursday. 

The biggest growth in cases since Thursday occurred in the two Tempe ZIP codes, with 165 new cases being reported in 85281 and 116 new cases in 85282. The 85212 ZIP code, where the Polytechnic campus is located, reported 69 new cases. Combined, the 85004 and 85306 ZIP codes reported 66 new cases.

Since Aug. 1, ASU has had 2,784 students and employees test positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 161 cases. Students make 2,671 cases and employees account for 113.

ADHS reported 1,476 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths in Arizona Monday.

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