Twenty-four Auburn University students and a worker at an Auburn bar have all tested positive for COVID-19, a sign that social gatherings and the state’s loosening of restrictions is resulting in a spike of cases there, according to local health experts.
The 24 Auburn students who tested positive for the virus had been to birthday parties, lake parties and trips to downtown social establishments, according to an article by the East Alabama Medical Center, first reported by Opelika-Auburn News.
“We are clearly seeing more confirmed cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Fred Kam, medical director at the Auburn University Medical Clinic, who added that the availability of more testing and the lifting of restrictions are probably contributing factors.
“There is no doubt in my mind we are seeing the after effects of Memorial Day parties, weekends at the lake or beach, and visits to some downtown venues,” Kam said. “I do not believe we have seen cases related to the protests, but it is still early in the timeline.”
Southeastern Bar in a Facebook post Monday said that an employee tested positive for COVID-19 Monday morning.
“Even though none of our team members were presenting symptoms while at work, we will be closing our facility out of an abundance of caution. We will deep-clean the facility and have each of our employees tested so that we can reopen safely for our customers and staff,” the post reads.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Lee County jumped 21 percent within the last week. As of Sunday there were 710 confirmed cases in the county, and 35 people there had died from the virus.
Alabama reported 5,302 new COVID-19 cases over the last seven days, which was the highest number of reported new cases over seven days since the outbreak began. At least 7,646 cases have been confirmed in the last two weeks — also the most in a two-week period.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of UAB’s infectious diseases division, said Monday that the state’s surge in new COVID-19 cases is coming at the time when we should be seeing the effects of the state’s reopening.
“We now have widespread, sustained community spread,” Marrazzo said. “There’s so much infection out there.”
Kam said in the East Alabama Medical Center article that he’s concerned over the public’s disuse of masks.
“What is most frustrating to me as a physician who keeps up daily with COVID information is the seemingly lax attitude that people, young and old, have toward adhering to the only preventive strategies that have worked so far,” Kam said. “Seeing people in the grocery stores and home improvement venues without masks and not making an attempt to keep a distance from others is incredibly frustrating, especially from those whom would be considered vulnerable.”