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University of Alabama System COVID-19 numbers continue to decline sharply — ‘You can be proud’

The University of Alabama System on Friday afternoon released its weekly update with COVID-19 related data from each of its three distinct institutions: the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The data — covering the seven-day period from Friday, September 11, through Thursday, September 17 — was impressive for all three universities.

The University of Alabama saw another tremendous decline in the number of new cases week-over-week. This comes after the previous week showed a 65% decline in new cases compared to the week prior.

Only 119 students tested positive at UA in the latest period, compared to 294 positives the previous week.

Another incredible sign at UA is the amount of quarantine/isolation rooms available on-campus. Only 3.88%% of these rooms are occupied (23/593).

Additionally, numbers at UAB and UAH continue to look good. In Birmingham, 18 students tested positive compared to 19 at UAH over the last week.

At UAB, only 2% of isolation rooms are being used (2/100 rooms); at UAH, that number is 26.4% (23/87 rooms).

Finally, sentinel testing of students, faculty and staff is ongoing System-wide, with less than 1% of individuals from this form of sample testing being positive. A release from the System advised this indicates a minimal rate of asymptomatic positive cases. System officials also explained this “demonstrates the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies that were imposed before the campuses reopened in August.”

Dr. Ricky Friend is dean of the College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama and a member of the UA System Health and Safety Task Force.

“I am pleased to report that our number of daily cases, active cases and use of isolation and quarantine space have all dramatically declined,” Friend said in a Friday statement. “This is encouraging and reiterates that, when the health and safety precautions are followed, they work very well to contain and minimize cases across the UA campus and throughout the UA System.”

This week’s data comes seven days after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, visited the University of Alabama for discussions with students, faculty and staff, as well as administrators and officials from the System and UA.

She effusively praised the System and university for their “strong leadership” and return-to-campus efforts as a whole, while urging everyone to continue following COVID-19 guidelines and orders.

RELATED: Birx: ‘Strong leadership’ from Univ. of Alabama System results in successful return-to-campus

At the latest UA System board of trustees meeting on Thursday, Chancellor Finis St. John confirmed the System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan is working well.

“We faced worrisome trends on our campuses, but we were prepared. We addressed the issues as they arose and made informed decisions,” he outlined in the virtual meeting.

“We trusted our plan and our people, and everyone had the courage to see this through,” St. John added, thanking the trustees for setting the bar high to overcome historic challenges. “You can be proud of the innumerable people who have worked to execute your vision.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn