ASU reports 1,330 total COVID-19 cases among entire campus community, many are recovered

Officials with Arizona State University announced on the afternoon of Sept. 1 that students living in on-campus housing will be dispersed across the school's residence hall offerings amid a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 test results.

According to numbers released by university officials on Sept. 9, ASU has had 1,330 total positive COVID-19 cases reported among its entire campus community, including staff and students, as well as those living on and off-campus since Aug. 1.

1,305 are students and 25 are staff members. About 48,152 people have been tested.

610 students have been cleared for returning back to normal life after testing positive for COVID-19, as well as 138 staff members. The staff number includes tests before Aug. 1.

In a news conference held by ASU's president on Sept. 9, Michael Crow says the university has been reporting only active case numbers, but moving forward, it will report cumulative cases.

In a statement, Jay Thorne with ASU says there are 5,000 spaces available within ASU's residence halls. 202 students are isolating on the Tempe campus.

"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," read a portion of the statement released Sept. 1.

Officials detail spread of COVID-19 on campus

In a statement, Thorne said there is not one event or one location or one activity that contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

"It’s a visit here, a small hangout there and the tendency to congregate, though we’re not seeing ongoing egregious violations," read a portion of the statement. "Sometimes it’s just a couple of kids hanging out in a dorm room who take their masks off."

ASU says they've implemented contact tracing efforts for close contacts with instructions of quarantining. Earlier, ASU President Michael Crow asked the community to take personal responsibility for their actions and behavior. Crow also asks for continued mask-wearing, social distancing, completing a daily health check, and staying home if you're feeling ill.

"We currently have testing blitzes taking place across our campuses – not because there are outbreaks, but to prevent them and manage them if they occur. Testing is available daily for any employee, student or affiliate who needs a test," Crow said.

Some students moving back home

On Sept. 1, some ASU students in on-campus housing were seen moving out of the dorms.

"The COVID outbreak is getting a lot worse here, and I just want to protect myself and family and not catch it," said Camille Neu, who is moving back home to Colorado.

Neu, a freshman, says she feels ASU has not done enough to stop the spread.

"They said 'we're going to keep it strict and locked down,' but unfortunately I have seen a lot of people who don't live in my dorm. They could have done better and been better, but no," said Neu. "At home, I don't have to worry about catching it every time I walk outside, and I know my learning won't be impacted because everything is online."

Other students, however, say they feel safe being on campus, and will stay in their dorm rooms for the time being.

"I feel OK," said freshman Anna Nations. "I got tested last week, so I'm feeling pretty safe, honestly."

"I see everyone wearing masks, hand sanitizer stations, and checking our ID to make sure we live here, so I feel safe," said freshman Kennedy Mackerellee.

State lawmaker expresses concern

As cases continue to rise, Athena Salman, a state lawmaker who represents Tempe, has sent a letter to ASU officials, concerned for the safety of all.

In the letter, State Rep. Salman asked the school for metrics they are following to have students and faculty return to the classroom, in addition to what they are doing to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In her letter, Salman also requested contact tracing, who is conducting them, how are students and faculty isolated.

Arizona reporting lower number of new cases

The cases at the university come as the state continues to report lower daily cases and hospitalizations for the virus. On Sept. 1, officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services report 507 new cases and 15 deaths, bringing the state's pandemic total to 202,342, The death toll now stands at 4,954.

Arizona was a national hotspot in late June and early July but has since become a relative success story after cities and counties implemented mask measures and Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, nightclubs, and gyms to close.


More Arizona counties could see gyms, nightclubs reopen

State guidelines drafted by Christ’s department say gyms can reopen at 25% capacity once a county hits moderate transmission rates but must commit to implementing strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. Gyms are also urged to use a reservation system. Bars and nightclubs also can open at 50% occupancy levels, but only if they convert to restaurant service and implement stringent health department guidelines. Bars with no food service must remain closed.

For more on the cases and how the university is handling the pandemic, visit this link.