In an effort to be transparent, UAB has provided the number of positive cases among UAB students, faculty and staff year-to-date, including data from our clinical and non-clinical enterprises. These data were posted out of context in a New York Times article about “colleges and universities” in a misleading way; the article combined university/non-clinical cases (239 in 2020, five since Aug. 19 and the Aug. 24 start of the fall semester) with clinical enterprise cases (733 in 2020), which it did not do for similar institutions.
By its own admission, these data are flawed: “Given the disparities in size and transparency among universities, this data should not be used to make campus-to-campus comparisons,” the article reads. Yet a comparative list of institutions is presented. Here is some context for the UAB community:
In our university/non-clinical enterprise, UAB is aware of 148 students (0.67% of our student body) and 91 faculty and staff (1.5% of that total population) who tested positive in 2020. For the non-clinical enterprise, this is a total of 239 total positive cases this year.
UAB’s clinical enterprise – which includes UAB Medicine, more than 17,500 employees and one of the nation’s largest hospitals, and welcomes more than 1.6 million patient visits a year – has provided vital healthcare services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes our healthcare providers on the frontlines who have cared for more than 1,100 hospitalized COVID-positive patients, as well as additional COVID-positive patients cared for in out-patient, ambulatory settings. This year, 733 faculty and staff in the clinical enterprise (4.1% of 17,500 total clinical enterprise employee population) have tested positive for COVID-19. 679 clinical enterprise employees have completed COVID-19 protocols and cleared to return to work.
These data include positive COVID-19 cases on- and off-campus throughout 2020, and contact tracing identified the vast majority of these cases (more than 80%) were acquired in the community, not at UAB. UAB is Alabama’s largest single employer, and like many businesses, our employees have not been immune to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the communities in which we live. Fortunately, our extensive safety precautions in clinical settings – including testing, training, temperature checks and health screenings, use of personal protective equipment, symptom monitoring, contact tracing, limits on visitation, quarantine/isolation, changes to procedures and physical space – have been effective in significantly reducing risk and protecting patients and employees within our facilities.
We will continue to communicate with transparency because we want you to have an accurate picture of the status of COVID on campus.