Radford University sees another spike in cases; university and health officials say the numbers are plateauing

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 9:13 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - The updated dashboard numbers from Radford University came out late Tuesday afternoon, breaking down the testing done on campus for students, staff and faculty by symptomatic or close contact individuals and asymptomatic individuals. This information is something in previous weeks, Radford did not release.

“So from the onset we committed to a weekly update to our dashboard and this week we’re pleased to provide an even greater level of transparency with the data,” said university spokesperson Caitlyn Scaggs. “We’ve increased the items that we’re reporting out on.”

When you open the dashboard, you can see an increase in the first three numbers across your screen, especially the number in the middle, but those numbers are then broken down further.

In the last seven days, 924 additional tests were completed.

Friday, the university also gave everyone without symptoms of COVID-19 a chance to get a test. About five percent came back positive, all students except for one staff member. No faculty tested positive.

President Dr. Brian Hemphill sent a letter to the university community Tuesday saying of those tests, 492 of them went to asymptomatic students, staff and faculty in this mass surveillance testing.

The other 432 tests were completed at the student health center for symptomatic individuals, or those who had close contact with known positive cases.

”Depending on who you are testing, that positivity rate is going to reflect differently If you are testing broadly across the population, as both university’s saw, their percent positivity was very low, if you are testing directive at symptomatic and high risk contacts your percent positive is going to be very high,” said Dr. Noelle Bissell, the director of the New River Health District.

Bissell said she expected to see a sharp increase in cases over a period of a week or two, then we would start to see a decline. She is anticipating a similar trend at Virginia Tech.

A graph lower on Radford’s dashboard shows a decline in the number of tests administered for those who are symptomatic, and as a result, fewer positive cases. The number of positive cases per day do not always match the number of tests given that same day.

“Sometimes the data entry lags a little bit,” Bissell said. “So even though it looks like the cases actually went up over the past 24 hours, a lot of that is just because we caught up on some of the data entries, but the cases we’re getting from Radford are declining and they are declining substantially.”

The VDH website is reporting 68 new cases for the city of Radford since Monday.

Students have since joined to sign a petition in an effort to relay their request that the university “enacts 2 weeks of remote instruction for student safety.”

The school says now’s not the time to relax good practices, even if everything is slowly trending down.

“The data supports that everyone needs to continue doing their part,” Scaggs said. “The work and the vigilance is not over. Everyone must continue to do their [part] and make the right choices to support the health of the public.”

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