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Active COVID-19 cases rise to 159 after welcome week

After the return of fully in-person classes, the number of active cases rose over 100 for the first time since April

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A volunteer worker puts on new gloves before administering the COVID-19 vaccine at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Tempe campus on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. 

After welcoming back more than 77,000 students back to campus last week, the University reported 159 positive cases within the community Monday, an increase of 64 compared to the last week's report of 95 cases.

Of the known positive cases, 121 are students, 96 of which are living off campus in the metropolitan Phoenix area. There are 16 students in isolation on the Tempe campus, while nine students are in isolation across the Downtown Phoenix, West and Polytechnic campuses.

There are 38 cases among faculty and staff.

Since Aug. 1, ASU has collected a total of 9,053 saliva tests. There were 125 students and 85 faculty and staff who tested positive, yielding a positivity rate of about 2.3%.

Since Aug. 1, the University has tested 8% of on-campus students and 3% of off-campus students.

The University collected 1,263 random tests from students and employees from Aug. 15-21. Of the collected samples, five positive cases came from on-campus students, one from off-campus students and four from employees. The positivity rate for random testing for on-campus students was about 1.2%.

ASU reportedly began the Fall 2020 semester with 161 active COVID-19 cases, a number that quickly climbed to 983 active cases on Sept. 2, two weeks after classes began.

But there are a few differences between the starts of the 2020 and 2021 school years. Classes, events and dorm capacities are back to pre-pandemic normals, and some students are vaccinated.

While some students worry the rise in cases due to the Delta variant might result in a return online, Joanne Vogel, the vice president of student services, said it's unlikely. 

READ MORE: Full return to campus brings all-time enrollment high, COVID-19 threats

The University has not set a threshold for the number of cases it would take to go back to online learning or impose restrictions within dorms, Vogel said.

"We managed a lot of cases last year, and so it would probably take a large number of cases for us to feel like we couldn't adequately ... provide the level of care we needed to," Vogel said on Friday.

As of Monday, The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,632 new positive COVID-19 cases and no new deaths, marking a 9.8% positivity rate.

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Kristen Apolline CastilloCommunity and Culture Editor

Kristen Apolline Castillo is the community and culture editor for The State Press. She has been working for the publication for two years, where she also reported for the desk.

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