Spring 2022 off to a COVID-heavy start at Alabama
The University of Alabama System published its first COVID-19 Dashboard update of the spring 2022 semester on Tuesday. As expected, the numbers are a lot higher than the ones that closed out the fall 2021 semester.
According to the dashboard, 358 students and 140 faculty and staff members at the Capstone tested positive for COVID-19 between Jan. 10 and Jan. 16. That number only reflects cases found by or reported to the university.
UA officials said maintaining in-person and on-campus learning is a priority, but the school has enacted safety measures that are proven effective, including wearing masks and encouraging vaccines and social distancing.
University Student Health Center Director Dr. Karen Burgess said these numbers come as no surprise, considering the rapid-spread nature of the omicron COVID-19 variant.
“I think we have kind of been anticipating this since before the end of last semester, Burgess said. “Omicron started to make its appearance in other places in the country, so we were already anticipating a rapid spread once students returned to campus.”
Students and UA employees exposed to COVID-19 or showing symptoms should call the University’s COVID-19 Hotline at 205-348-2819.
UA College of Community Health Sciences Dean Dr. Richard Friend said the hotline is backlogged, but it’s still imperative that anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 outside the university or thinks they may have COVID-19 should call.
“We have in our protocols that when somebody knows that they test positive, whether it’s here on campus or an external site, that they call that line so we can give them the proper advice and do our mandatory reporting to the state,” Friend said.”
The hotline is getting more than 500 calls a day, Friend said, and that’s only over an eight to nine-hour period.
“We’ve added some extended hours, we added more personnel,” Friend said. “It is challenging for us right now to meet all of the needs of our faculty, staff and students, but we’re doing the best that we can as quickly as we can.”