Auburn Medical Clinic Director provides update, urges continued safeguards following Labor Day

Published: September 10, 2020
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In his weekly COVID-19 update, Auburn University Medical Clinic Director Dr. Fred Kam on Tuesday put into perspective the university’s latest weekly COVID-19 positive case number and urged the public to continue following safeguards amid a crucial time following the recent Labor Day weekend.

“We are definitely expecting a new spike post-Labor Day,” Dr. Kam said. “So, this next week is really crucial to how the first two or three weeks of October is going to look. So, whatever you can do, you need to do it.”

The university on Tuesday released its latest weekly positive case number – 598 – for Aug. 31-Sept. 6. The previous week’s figure was 570.

“There was a slight increase in the number of patients who tested positive this week,” Dr. Kam said, but quickly noted that the latest number was “totally expected. Actually, it’s lower than what I was anticipating.”

The positive cases are being reported to the university through the following sources:

• Self-reported data (students, employees and contractors who report testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of testing location)

• GuideSafe on-campus Sentinel testing—which recently began and will involve an ongoing, random selection of campus community members on a voluntary basis.

Dr. Kam said this week he will have his eye on any new cases that might have arisen from the Labor Day holiday weekend.

“Anyone who spent time this last weekend from Friday to Monday for the Labor Day weekend and may have gotten exposed to the virus, picked it up and got infected, you’re going to be in a contagious period starting today (Tuesday, Sept. 8) through next Monday (Sept. 14). That’s going to be your most contagious period.”

He urged the public to take extra steps to keep safe, to including wearing masks, washing hands and observing social distancing.

“Even if you got infected, the infection will stop with you. It won’t perpetuate, and you won’t start a mini-outbreak,” he said of those who follow proper safeguards.

Dr. Kam then turned to the Sentinel testing that is now occurring on campus. He said every week approximately 2.5 to 3 percent of the Auburn campus community will be randomly chosen for such testing on a voluntary basis. The selection will come from many different areas on campus and also include different ages and demographics of the campus population.

“It gives you a good idea of whether or not you may be having community spread or the possibility of an area of concern that needs to be investigated further,” he said.

Ultimately, Dr. Kam reiterated that the semester remains on track.

“Based on all of the variables we are seeing, there’s no reason to believe that we are not going to have a successful semester,” he said. “I want to thank everybody for all of their efforts, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.