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ASU has 112 new COVID-19 cases in past 3 days, while UA has 678

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 9/19/2020 Madeline Ackley, Arizona Republic

Arizona State University announced Thursday evening that there have been 112 new cases reported in its community in the past three days, while the University of Arizona says it is experiencing a steep increase.

ASU has conducted 57,629 COVID-19 tests since Aug. 1, and 3,385 of those were completed in the last three days.

Since then, ASU said 1,580 students have tested positive as have 30 staff and faculty members — a 2.8% positivity rate. Although ASU's positivity rate has been rising, a positivity rate of 5% is considered a good benchmark that the spread is under control.

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ASU reported 355 current student cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, which excluded online students who may have the virus.

Of those, 259 cases of COVID-19 were off-campus in the metropolitan Phoenix area, while 88 cases have been reported on the Tempe campus and the rest were spread throughout the remaining campuses, according to the university. Five faculty or staff are currently sick with the disease. 

a sign on the side of a building: Two students at the University of Arizona will be charged with misdemeanors after a video showing them protesting a Customs and Border Protection event on campus went viral, UA President Robert Robbins announced Friday. © Michael Chow/The Republic Two students at the University of Arizona will be charged with misdemeanors after a video showing them protesting a Customs and Border Protection event on campus went viral, UA President Robert Robbins announced Friday.

ASU reported that on-campus students who are known to have COVID-19 were living in isolation. 

Meanwhile, UA is seeing a steep increase. The university said 245 positive cases were reported on Wednesday alone. 

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, traveled on Air Force Two for a meeting with President Robert C. Robbins and other university officials at the University of Arizona. Her visit coincided with events Vice President Mike Pence held in the Phoenix area on Friday.

Birx will meet with university, city and county officials in Tucson to discuss UA’s reentry process for a short visit on Friday afternoon, said Holly Jensen, a UA spokesperson. UA will discuss its antibody and antigen testing programs, she said, and tour the university’s labs.

“She's meeting with the (university’s) president, and all of our public health officials and scientists, and they're going to go over the internal antibody and antigen testing that we're doing here, but also talking about reentry,” Jensen said.

Birx has visited other colleges in recent days, as many across the country have seen cases increase after reopening their campuses.

While ASU reported 112 new cases for the period from Sept. 14 through 16, UA reported 678 new identified cases in the same period. 

There have been a total of 1,951 cases campus-wide at UA since Aug. 4 as of Thursday evening, according to UA, which represents a 6.4% positivity rate. 

That rate is climbing. For tests performed in the last 10 days, the rate was 11.3%, according to UA.

And while the positivity rate for ASU for new cases identified between Sept. 12 and 14 was 3.3%, at UA it was 15.5%.

UA leadership and Pima County health officials announced plans Monday asking people to shelter in place for 14 days to help curb surging COVID-19 infection rates on and off-campus.

UA uses antigen tests, a rapid test which detects the current presence of COVID-19 using a nasal swab or other fluid samples to test for current infection. Previously, the Arizona Department of Health Services was not including most results from antigen tests in its count, including from UA. 

The department started including as probable cases anyone with a positive antigen test, which it said was the reason the number of new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday was the highest it has been since Aug. 1. 

Reach the reporter at madeline.ackley@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @Mkayackley.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ASU has 112 new COVID-19 cases in past 3 days, while UA has 678

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