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UT reports significant drop in COVID-19 cases over past week

University of Tennessee officials confirmed the university currently has 135 active COVID-19 cases.
(WVLT)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 1:28 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 10:49 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - University of Tennessee officials confirmed the university currently has 119 active COVID-19 cases.

According to UT, 114 students and 5 employees have tested positive as of Sept. 25.

The university will continue to track how many individuals are self-isolating due to exposure to COVID-19, COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results. The university confirmed 458 individuals are currently self-isolating.

According to data released by UT, 1,336 individuals have recovered since June 8.

UT Chancellor Donde Plowman addressed the question many individuals posed, why are students being allowed back on campus during the pandemic? Plowman said most students expressed their desire to return to campus and their parents shared those thoughts.

“Our students should not have to put on hold their plans for an education, because we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last,” Plowman said.

UT students began moving onto campus for the fall semester on August 9. The semester began on Aug. 19 with an estimated 29,000 students enrolled. Students are required to wear masks and self-test for COVID-19 symptoms before arriving on campus each day.

Nearly half the classes offered will include an in-person component, the other half will be fully online or a part of a hybrid in-person and virtual teaching method.

Plowman said UT decided against going completely virtual for the 2020-21 school year is because “an important part of the education, the total experience is everything that happens outside the classroom.”

Dr. Spencer Gregg with the UT Student Health Center said the university has worked to increase testing capabilities at the student health center and working to purchase rapid testing technology.

“I am so proud of our entire campus community,” Plowman said. “It’s not easy for our students or staff.”

Plowman said UT officials will constantly analyze testing capabilities, hospital capacity, cases in the community and availability of isolation spaces to determine if classes can continue being held in person.

Plowman announced a freeze will be placed on hiring new staff members at UT.

UT will provide live updates for faculty and staff at 12:30 p.m. and a separate update for students and families at 1:30 p.m.

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