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Saturday, April 01, 2023

I caught COVID-19 at UF. Test students weekly

opinions graphic generic
opinions graphic generic

I am the second person to test positive for COVID-19 at Hume Hall at UF. I was exposed to the virus by another resident of Hume. Both of us were wearing masks but were not socially distanced in the Hume Library. I may have contracted the virus because we were sitting very close to each other, talking or because of the cards we were passing around. One way or another, I acknowledge that socializing that day was my decision; I am not blaming any person in particular and take responsibility for contracting COVID-19. 

However, I do believe UF needs to take more serious measures regarding COVID-19 tracking on campus. 

For example, students were not required to get tested before returning to campus. Implementing this requirement would have potentially prevented hordes of students from bringing COVID-19 to campus from their hometowns. 

I found out about the positive case in my dorm not from UF Housing or contact tracers, but from a group chat. I was, and still am, asymptomatic. No one asked me to get tested but just in case, I reached out to UF to get tested. It took three days for my suitemates to be tested after my positive result. UF told the people I interacted with that they didn’t have to be tested unless they developed symptoms. This is tremendously dangerous because up to 50% of coronavirus cases have no symptoms, and can carry just as much of the virus as symptomatic cases, according to experts. 

We all know how deadly this virus is. If this trend continues, our beloved campus will inevitably become a fraught place and deaths will skyrocket. 

As a result, this is what I propose: Test every UF student weekly. 

UF informed me that one reason they can not do this is that they do not have enough tests. But administrators could  find ways to allocate money the right way. If UF genuinely prioritizes student health, it should either test every student regularly or would dismiss us off campus like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did. Numerous private and public institutions alike administer tests every 5-7 days. Even large state schools, like the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, are testing students twice a week. 

At the very least, UF should test a random sample of students every week as well as every student who comes into contact with known positives. Testing UF students will prevent the spread and detect the virus in students before it is too late. 

Obviously, everyone on campus understands the risk of contracting the virus. I also appreciate the immediate action taken to test me and contact trace my case. But currently, UF is endangering its students, staff, faculty and their families. If we want football season, the ability to leave our dorms without fear and to not die, UF Health and its Screen, Test, and Protect initiative has to do more. Test us weekly for the betterment of our community.

The author is a resident of Hume Hall who tested positive for COVID-19.

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