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Coronavirus cases among students at University of Alabama climb to more than 1,000

The dean of the College of Community Health Sciences said there is "no evidence of virus transmission due to in-person class instruction."
Image: University of Alabama
Bibb Graves Hall on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sept. 22, 2018.Wesley Hitt / Getty Images

Coronavirus cases are continuing to climb at the University of Alabama, with more than 1,000 students testing positive for COVID-19 since the start of on-campus classes last week.

The school's COVID-19 dashboard shows that 492 students across their three campuses tested positive for the virus between Tuesday and Thursday, bringing the total number of cases since Aug. 19 — when the fall semester began — to 1,063.

Those numbers do not include the 305 students who tested positive prior to the start of on-campus classes.

A majority of the cases are at the university's main campus in Tuscaloosa. According to the dashboard, 1,043 students have tested positive since Aug. 19.

In a press release on Friday, the university said that none of the students who have tested positive have been hospitalized.

"Our exposure notification efforts have revealed no evidence of virus transmission due to in-person class instruction," said Dr. Ricky Friend, the university's dean of the College of Community Health Sciences.

"We remain satisfied that the precautions implemented prior to the resumption of classes — including masking, distancing, and a blend of in-person and remote instruction — are appropriate and effective.”

UA System Chancellor Finis St. John said that students have the option to remain on campus or return home and take online classes.

Kellee Reinhart, senior vice-chancellor for communications and community relations at the university, previously told NBC News that the school "has an ample amount of quarantine space for COVID-positive students."

But "many students have chosen to go home to recuperate," she said. Earlier this week, the university reported that more than 550 people across its campuses had the virus.

Selwyn Vickers, dean of the School of Medicine at UAB and co-chair of the UA System Health and Safety Task Force, said that "over the past week, due to student behavior, we have seen a spike in the number of students who have sought re-testing because they became symptomatic or were exposed to a COVID-positive individual."

"That trend prompted the decision to take further steps to reduce the chance that the COVID- 19 virus will escalate dramatically," she added.

Among faculty and staff, there have been 82 coronavirus cases across the three campuses since Aug. 19.

On Monday, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced that bars would be closed for two weeks. During this time, restaurants will have to eliminate bar service, the mayor said. Alcohol can only be served at tables.

St. John thanked the mayor for his decision, saying in Friday's press release, “We remain concerned that off-campus transmission is our greatest risk, which is why we asked Mayor Maddox to consider that action. We thank him for making that difficult decision to protect our campus community and Tuscaloosa.”