Positive COVID-19 cases rose steadily at UF during the first week of classes, but Saturday saw the Fall semester’s first major spike.
Since the first on-campus case reported in Hume Tuesday, UF has notified students in several other dorms of positive cases on their floors. But, not every case’s location has been confirmed, and many cases likely haven’t been accounted for.
This week had 68 new cases: Eight students tested positive through UF’s Return-to-Campus Initiative and 60 students tested positive through the Student Health Care Center, according to UF Health’s Screen, Test and Protect dashboard. The majority of these cases were added in the past day.
These numbers don’t represent every positive test, said UF’s spokesperson Steve Orlando. Neither the Return-to-Campus Initiative nor the Student Health Care Center sections include positive tests done off campus that students self-report to UF.
On Friday, The Alligator confirmed two students were COVID-19 positive after getting tested through CVS.
Tests like these aren’t included in this week’s 68 reported cases.
Alachua County’s median age for COVID-19 positives has gradually declined this week, with Friday and Saturday’s medians reaching 20 years old — a stark contrast from the statistic throughout the summer, which hovered in the thirties and forties.
On Friday, UF’s dashboard reported only 16 new cases during the week.
Since Saturday, the total number of student cases has increased by 47 according to the dashboard, with the Student Health Care Center’s positivity rate increasing from 18.6% to 21.1%.
But, those percentages are cumulative since May; the positivity rate in the past day spiked at 52.2% after the health care center did 90 tests.
Since Monday, 165 individuals have been identified by the university as contacts of people who tested positive, and 177 people — both contacts and people who’ve tested positive — have been quarantined, according to the dashboard. Currently, 370 people are quarantined, an increase of 106 since Friday.
The dashboard also displays cases identified and followed among “UF affiliates,” who are defined as “staff, faculty, students and other UF-related individuals.” This number has increased by 158 cases since Monday.
UF acknowledged the uptick in the number of cases and quarantined students in a Facebook post Sunday. The statement said the university anticipated the surge and is prepared to handle the cases, “which will likely continue for some time in the wake of the holiday weekend.”
Seven of the 16 cases reported Friday occurred in on-campus residence halls, and all of those individuals were isolated, Orlando said. He couldn’t specify the residence halls in which any of the new cases occurred.
The Alligator confirmed the locations of some on-campus cases by obtaining emails sent from UF Housing to students living on floors with the cases. The COVID-19 positive students, close contacts and parents whom The Alligator contacted for confirmation preferred to remain anonymous.
Tuesday, UF confirmed a positive case, which The Alligator identified as being on Hume Hall East’s third floor. The student tested positive Aug. 28 and has since been quarantined.
The Alligator later confirmed a second Hume resident — who was identified as a close contact of the first individual — has since tested positive and has also been quarantined.
The second case occurred on Hume East’s fourth floor, and according to one of the floor’s residents, UF has not emailed students on the floor about the new case as of Friday evening.
The Alligator confirmed at least three cases on Fletcher Hall’s first floor, two cases on Yulee Hall’s second floor and one on its fourth floor, which UF reported to residents through emails sent by UF Housing.
UF law students received an email Wednesday from the college’s dean, Laura Rosenbury, notifying them of two on-campus cases of COVID-19 within the college.
“These students are not in any of the same courses, and we do not have any information to suggest that the students even know each other,” the email read. “At this point, we are also not aware of any transmission between students sitting near these students.”
The Levin College of Law is still holding in-person classes with safety precautions in place, including masks, distancing and plexiglass dividers between students. Students haven’t been notified of any new cases in the college since Wednesday.
“It’s what I expected to happen,” said Savannah Gribbins, a 25-year-old third-year law student. “Everyone, including the professors at UF Law, knew there would be an outbreak bringing everyone back in person.”
Gribbins said many of the college’s classes are “hybrid,” meaning students have the option to watch via Zoom or attend in person, which was intended to maintain debate and discussion — key elements of the classes. She said classes should’ve been entirely online from the start.
“I feel like the damage is already done,” she said. “In terms of what could be done now, I guess pack the whole thing up and send everybody home, but the problem is now people are going back to their hometowns and possibly spreading stuff to their families.”
- Hume: 2
- Fletcher: 3
- Yulee: 3