One health expert wonders if the amount of parties on campuses affects the COVID-19 numbers,

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- All eyes are on Arizona's three largest universities as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise with students and faculty back on campus.

 But comparing those numbers, the COVID-19 situation is looking different on the three campuses right now. Some say one thing that could be playing a factor in those numbers is partying.

A Phoenix doctor said he’s impressed with the efforts the universities have in place to deal with coronavirus and try to prevent it, but he said where the problems come in is when the students don’t follow those rules.

He said if cases continue to trend upward on the campuses, then staffers will need to decide if it’s safe to keep students there. “I am concerned about the use of parties and lack of distancing among students and them not taking it seriously,” said Dr. Shad Marvasti with UArizona College of Medicine.

Just over the Labor Day weekend, the Twitter account “ASU Covid Tracker” posted pictures of party promos happening in Tempe near campus. One invite told people to avoid security.

“The fact remains that if you have these parties and activities, that’s going to cause the numbers to go up and eventually could get into a situation where they have to close. Hopefully that doesn’t happen if people learn from the mistakes,” said Dr. Marvasti.

Marcasti said no matter how much universities do, numbers will climb if students don’t continue to socially distance and wear masks.

Arizona’s Family took a look at the COVID-19 numbers of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University from last week alone.

UArizona reported 79 positive cases as of last Friday.

NAU reported 34 positive cases, including both on and off campus, with 7,000 students living on campus right now.

ASU reported just under 1,000 current cases last week.  But as of Monday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m., ASU's COVID-19 Management page reported some new numbers:

  • Total positive tests reported for Sept. 7, 2020, are 198
  • The seven-day trailing average of total positive tests is 589.9.  

As of Sept. 6, the university is now only reporting 807 total known positive cases among the total student body of 74,500 (excluding online). That number as of Sept. 2 was 957. So why are ASU's COVID-19 numbers appearing to go down? Here's the answer, according to Jay Thorne, ASU's Assistant Vice President of Media Relations & Strategic Communications:

ASU reports data regarding known current positive COVID-19 cases twice weekly, reflective of data on hand Sunday/Wednesday; we report total known positives for day ending Sunday/Wednesday. These numbers are not cumulative and they are not new daily totals. Over time, people will roll off the positive case count and that will impact the number ASU reports.

Meantime, Dr. Marvasti said he wouldn’t be surprised if other universities start seeing trends climb quickly like ASU. But he said while the universities continue to have mitigation practices in place and constant COVID-19 testing, it’s really up to the students to help control this. “If they follow everything that the universities have set out as part of the plan then they’re going to be fine. It’s when they disregard the rules, that’s the problem,” he said.

The three universities release new numbers weekly to keep students and faculty up to date on the situation.


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