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Liberty University's COVID-19 cases rise to 90

Liberty University's COVID-19 cases rise to 90

Liberty University health triage - Dr. Thomas

Dr. Joanna Thomas answers questions regarding COVID-19 testing at the student health triage center at Liberty University on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2020.

Eighty-four students and six employees at Liberty University have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks, a university spokesperson said Tuesday.

The number of active cases at the institution has tripled from the 30 positive cases reported Aug. 28. At the time, a school official said 25 students and five employees had tested positive.

Now, 166 students are in quarantine or isolation at a 200-room off-campus facility used to house students who have contracted or been exposed to the virus.

According to the university, 93 students and staffers have tested negative and 180 are awaiting results as of Tuesday. Those figures indicate nearly half of tests performed in the last two weeks have returned a positive result.

Just 328 students, a small fraction of the about 15,000 residential students enrolled at Liberty, have been tested for COVID-19 in the last fourteen days.

The university did not require students to take a test before returning to campus. Instead, the school has made tests available to anyone who requests one through the on-campus health center, including those who do not show symptoms of the respiratory illness.

Liberty health officials said last week the school is performing about 20 to 60 tests each day. Results are generally processed in two to seven days.

About 8,000 students live on campus, 7,000 commute to campus for class and there are roughly 5,000 faculty and staff. In-person classes resumed Aug. 24.

Liberty plans to begin publishing weekly COVID-19 updates on its website by Sept. 15, the spokesperson said. The figures will be made public through a data dashboard, an increasingly popular digital tool used by large colleges and universities to disclose the number of COVID-19 cases among students and employees.

As Liberty’s coronavirus cases rise, other schools in the region are seeing a drop in positive cases.

The University of Lynchburg on Tuesday reported 12 active COVID-19 cases in its student population and two active cases among faculty and staff members. That is down from a peak of 46 active student cases in late August.

According to the school’s daily coronavirus update, 82 students now are in quarantine or isolation. A total of 186 cases have been resolved, meaning the students have recovered or have been cleared to leave quarantine. Around 1,300 undergraduate students live on campus.

At Sweet Briar College in Amherst County, none of its almost 400 students are now known to be infected after several students tested positive last month. There is just one active case among its employees as of Tuesday.

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