“The truth is that fall in Tuscaloosa is in serious jeopardy,” the Tuscaloosa mayor said
The University of Alabama’s classes resumed last week, and in a surprise to no one, school officials reported an “unacceptable” rise in COVID-19 cases since, particularly among fraternities and sororities. This follows news of Notre Dame suspending classes after nearly 150 students tested positive for COVID-19 and, earlier this month, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reporting clusters of coronavirus cases just days after its fall semester began.
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, 566 cases of the virus have been reported since Aug. 19 — that’s over the course of just five days.
“During that time, we encountered many students who have been exposed since returning to campus, particularly in the Greek system,” said Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of college of community health sciences.
In response to the spike, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox not only shuttered the city’s bars, but he also stopped bar service at restaurants for the next two weeks, CBS News reports. The move was requested by university officials, Maddox said, and for good reason: Take a look at the image University of Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted last week, showing dozens of unmasked people at an off-campus bar.
“The truth is that fall in Tuscaloosa is in serious jeopardy,” Maddox said.
At a recent news conference, University of Alabama President Stuart Bell called the rise in COVID-19 cases “unacceptable.”
“Although our initial re-entry test was encouraging, the rise in COVID cases that we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable and if unchecked threatens our ability to complete the semester on campus,” he added.
As of Friday, the university announced a 14-day moratorium on all in-person student events outside of classrooms. As part of the school’s new guidelines, all social gatherings both on and off campus are now prohibited, the common areas of dorms and fraternity and sorority houses are now closed, and visitors are now banned from said dorms and sorority and fraternity houses. Those caught hosting gatherings will received “heightened consequences,” and serious and repeated violations will result in suspension.
“Tide Together now more than ever, we are seeing the harsh consequences at other universities which have been forced to close abruptly because safety protocols were not followed,” Bell said in a statement. “The eyes of the nation are following us closely and I am confident we will meet and exceed our status as frontrunners.”