AU’s social distancing success; low numbers of COVID-19 cases reported


Auburn, Ala. (WRBL) – Positive news from the campus of Auburn University as Medical Director, Dr. Frederick Kam, shares an update with News 3 regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving students and faculty. 

Dr. Kam believes AU’s aggressive and timely response to the pandemic suppressed the virus from spreading. To date there are nine known cases of COVID-19 involving students and faculty.  Each case has been meticulously tracked and monitored by AU professionals in an effort to contain spread in the community.  

Considering there are more than 30,000 students enrolled at AU along with 5,000 full time faculty and staff; AU’s plan to contain the virus and switch to online learning has protected people on and off campus. It hasn’t been easy. But it’s working. 

Dr. Kam shared this update with News 3 on Thursday, April 9.

Since the outbreak began in Alabama, we have had reports of both Auburn students and employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 5 students and 4 employees. Those reports have come either through our direct testing efforts at the AU Medical Clinic or through word of mouth. We have directly contacted any of the names reported to us to investigate their validity and more importantly whether they posed any threat or dangers to others at Auburn. We have used the opportunity to properly educate each of those AU family members on what they need to do to limit the spread and be an ongoing resource for their questions or concerns. 

I am pleased to say that every single patient that I am aware of did not pose any notable threat to others at Auburn because of AU leadership’s decision to change to online classes and work from home capability for employees. Despite being disruptive to people’s daily routine and social interaction, it was absolutely brilliant from a public health and outbreak prevention status. 

The students whom we are aware of and confirmed, all contracted the virus during spring break travel. The employees are aware of getting infected as a result of a household member or community spread based on their timelines. 

We had one of our non-clinical employees at the clinic contract the virus at home from a family member and during the asymptomatic phase had exposed a few co-workers. Because of quick and decisive action, we were able to limit the spread and prevent an outbreak within the clinic. We practiced exactly what we were trained to do in such a situation. Fortunately, at no time were any patients put at risk and we are well past that now and our entire clinic team has been diligent about daily self-monitoring and staying at home when necessary. 

We continue to daily phone screenings and COVID-19 testing through our hotline 334-844-9825.

Sheltering in place works and when not in your shelter, physical social distancing, hand hygiene, and cough etiquette are game-changers in slowing the spread of this virus. I  professionally believe using face masks will also result in a decrease in the spread. Each person’s compliance and behavioral adherence to these measures will save lives and affect the trajectory of this unprecedented outbreak.

Frederick Kam MD

Medical Director 

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