A UF student living in Hume Hall tested positive for COVID-19 three days before the Fall semester began.
The student, who lives on the third floor of Hume Hall East, has since been quarantined after receiving the results Friday, according to an email sent to residents.No other cases have yet been linked to theirs.
In response, the university conducted an additional 38 tests, said Steve Orlando, UF’s spokesperson. So far, there have not been any more positive cases; but, not all of the floor’s residents have received their results yet.
The floor’s residents opened their inboxes to the heart-stopping message three days before the start of the Fall semester: “Today, we learned a student who lives on your floor tested positive for COVID-19,” read the email from UF Housing sent Friday night.
Fewer than 10 students who were identified as close contacts of the COVID-19 positive student have been moved into isolation.
The students are either isolated at home or in one of UF’s 400 isolation rooms, wrote Orlando in an email to The Alligator. He was unsure how many students isolated at home and how many isolated on campus.
The student’s room will be cleaned in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, he wrote. Hume Hall, which is divided into two buildings, is currently at 72% capacity with a total of 608 residents, said Sara Tanner, director of marketing and communications for UF’s student affairs.
No other cases have yet been tied to Hume’s positive case, although UF has seen six new student cases since Wednesday, according to UF’s Screen, Test and Protect dashboard.
Forty-nine students without symptoms have tested positive through the Return-to-Campus Initiative, and 196 students — with and without symptoms — have tested positive at the Student Health Care center, according to the dashboard. Both numbers increased by three positive cases in the past week.
“Should we find other cases in residential facilities in the future, we’ll follow the same procedures; that is, quarantine and isolation of contacts and cases and expanded testing of contacts and those who we deem are potentially at risk,” Orlando wrote.
The COVID-19 positive student was tested Thursday and received the positive result Friday afternoon, said Veronica Nocera, a resident of the floor who heard from the student through their floor’s group chat. UF Housing responded with its warning email the same night.
“It was definitely stressful and I would say kind of a shock,” said Nocera, an 18-year-old UF journalism freshman. “Obviously I expected at some point some people were going to start testing positive, it was just kind of crazy to be literally on my floor and in my building.”
At about 9 a.m. Sunday, UF staff knocked on all the doors of Hume East’s third floor, asking residents if they wanted to be tested. Nocera said she only saw about 10 students in line when her and her roommate were tested.
Nocera said people on her floor have been taking necessary precautions since the news broke by wearing masks and avoiding common areas. But, she thinks others could do more.
“People from this floor have been kind of spending less time in the common room, but I think that there's still kind of a crowd of people — not necessarily from this floor — but boys that are watching TV together that I walk past and sometimes they won't be wearing masks,” she said.
Delaney Boyle, Nocera’s roommate and an 18-year-old health science freshman, said she also noticed some residents disregarding distancing rules before they received the email.
“My dad has asthma, and I want to be able to go home and see him without being afraid that I’m going to give him the virus,” Boyle said. “So I’m kind of keeping to myself.”
The dorm’s common areas have a five-person limit, but Nocera said she’s seen up to 10 people together at a time. Sunday night, a resident assistant broke up a group of about 10 people, she said. Several of those people weren’t residents of their floor.
“At least I got five days or whatever of thinking things were going kind of well,” Nocera said.