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Arizona State shifts housing plans amid COVID-19 case rise

September 2, 2020 GMT

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State University has announced that some students living on the college campus will be moved because of an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“With the shift that we announced last night, we’ll be dispersing students out across all of our residence halls, moving some students to different rooms and different residence halls to reduce the density in the dorms,” the university said in a statement Tuesday.

There are 5,000 spaces available in the residence halls to begin shifting students housing arrangements, officials said. It is unclear how many students would be moved or when the moves would take place.


The announcement came after the university reported that 775 students and 28 faculty members tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, shortly after in-person classes started Aug. 20.

Among the students, 428 live off campus, 323 are in isolation at the Tempe campus and the remainder are in isolation at either the Glendale or downtown Phoenix campuses. There are no known positive cases on the Polytechnic campus.

“There’s not one event or one location or one activity that is contributing to the spread,” the statement said. “Sometimes it’s just a couple of kids hanging out in a dorm room who take their masks off – it’s a very contagious disease, and it’s spreading.”

The university has since taken additional precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, including increased security and enforcement, prohibiting external visitors and removing housing from students with repeat violations.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The state Department of Health Services on Wednesday reported 591 additional COVID-19 cases and 21 additional deaths, raising the statewide totals to 202,861 cases and 5,065 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths in the state continued to decline, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press.

The average of new cases dropped from 883 on Aug. 18 to 438 on Tuesday, while the average of daily deaths went from 47 on Aug. 18 to 42 on Tuesday.

In other developments:

—Maricopa County health officials announced Wednesday they plan to test hundreds of residents for antibodies for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has chosen 29 neighborhoods across the county to approach with the free voluntary testing, Marcy Flanagan, executive director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said. The goal is to test either 500 people or 210 households.

The “serosurvey” aims to figure out how many people in the state’s most populous county may have been unknowingly exposed to COVID-19 but recovered.

“This will help us determine how many people need to get vaccinated in Maricopa County once a vaccine is available and relax strategies for social distancing and masks recommendations,” Flanagan said. Teams made up of public health workers from the county and Arizona State University will do the testing from Sept. 12-20.

—The University of Arizona has gotten approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to continue offering its own COVID-19 antibody test. The test had been under review since April. UA researchers were initially only administering the free testing to high risk groups like first responders and health care workers. Now, the university will expand the testing to anyone in Arizona age 18 and older.