The University of Alabama has seen at least 531 confirmed new coronavirus cases among students, faculty and staff since opening last week.
The University of Alabama System unveiled its COVID-19 dashboard on Monday, which presents data about the virus on all three of its campuses: the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The current confirmed cases were reported on the Tuscaloosa campus and have come about since classes resumed Aug. 19.
“Testing data posted today summarizes entry results for UA System students through August 23 and additional testing for those who tested negative prior to entry but sought additional testing because they became symptomatic or exposed to someone who was COVID-positive,” the dashboard says.
Prior to the school reopening, the university had implemented some safety precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus. Move-in times for the residence halls were staggered, classrooms were redesigned to limit how many people could be in one at any time, and changes were made to dining policies and events. The school also tested students upon reentry and said “face coverings will be required when physical distancing is not possible, which includes classrooms, labs, communal office space and on-campus gatherings.”
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said Monday that the city would close bars for the next two weeks due to an “unacceptable” rise in cases at the school.
“The truth is that fall in Tuscaloosa is in serious jeopardy,” Maddox said at a news conference.
UA President Stuart Bell told AL.com that the university’s “challenge is not the students.”
“Our challenge is the virus and there’s a difference, folks. What we have to do is identify where does the virus thrive and where does the virus spread and how can we work together with our students, with our faculty and with our staff to make sure that we minimize those places, those incidents,” he said. “It’s not student behavior, OK? It’s how do we have protocols so that we make it to where our students can be successful, and we can minimize the impact of the virus.”
Alabama saw a surge in cases earlier this summer, resulting in new health warnings being put in place to stop the spread and the death of the longtime mayor of Clanton, Billy Joe Driver, in July.