ASU ends fall semester with 3,357 cumulative COVID-19 cases

Active coronavirus cases within the University's community decreased to a total of 337 since Monday's update

ASU ended its fall semester with 3,357 cumulative COVID-19 cases since Aug. 1, according to a University update Thursday.

There are 337 active cases within the ASU community, a decrease of 64 since Monday's update. There are 260 active cases within the student population and 77 among employees. 

There are 217 active cases among students off-campus in the metropolitan Phoenix area, and 35 students are isolating on the Tempe campus. A total of eight active student cases are on Downtown Phoenix, West or Polytechnic campuses. 

Arizona's Rt number – representing the average number of people who become infected by another person –  is at 1.17. The state's 7-day average positive test rate has risen to 22.99%, according to data from the Biodesign Critical COVID-19 trends page. The average positive testing rate in Maricopa County, where ASU's four main campuses are located, is higher at 25.1%.

The University has collected approximately 150,477 tests from students and employees since Aug. 1. According to the update, it has tested 82% of on-campus students and 44% of off-campus students.

The ASU community's percent positivity rate is roughly 2.2%, using the cumulative number of positive results as the numerator and the total number of tests collected as the denominator. The percent positivity rate represents the level of transmission of the virus and shows if the testing is effective.   

Web analytics for the update page provided by a University spokesperson shows that page views peaked early in the semester when cases were near their highest within the ASU community and when the University transitioned to its current Educational Outreach and Student Services webpage on Sept. 10.

As the semester continued, daily page views would vary based upon if there was an update to the website or if cases experienced a small spike. Time spent on the pages varied, but most days ranged from 5-10 minutes for each viewer.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported a record 5,442 newly reported cases of the coronavirus along with 82 new deaths Thursday.

Internal tracking of ADHS 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 574 since Monday. 

In a Wednesday media briefing, Biodesign Institute Executive Director Joshua LaBaer said the University was a much more controlled environment than the state, especially for on-campus students. He called the University a "safe harbor" and said isolated spikes from move-in and Halloween "tell me the virus responds pretty well to structured situations."

"(The state) reached an all-time high this week in terms of new cases," LaBaer said. "We are now surpassing the numbers that we saw in the summer."

LaBaer said prevention of unnecessary spread of the virus and routine testing "can actually control this virus, and I think that's one thing that we've observed here at the University." 

Similar to previous briefings, LaBaer said Wednesday the concern lies with how the curve of cases seems to be slowing but not completely. He said hospital capacity and ICU bed space is also a concern.

"It doesn't look great at the moment, I have to admit," LaBaer said. "I think we have to really be thoughtful about what measures we can take now to turn this corner and slow things down."


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

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