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UF knew about positive COVID-19 test last Thursday, asked student not to publicize it

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

A UF Dental School student has sent the following email to classmates:

“Yes, the rumor is true. I am one of the four UF students who tested positive for COVID-19. I returned from Spring Break before knowing that and, unfortunately, may have put some of you and others at risk and certainly have added to your stress. I wouldn’t do anything to knowingly harm you. I hope you believe me when I say I tried to tell you as soon as possible. I was asked to hold off on a global communication by the college and UF, because it complicates how the university must respond as they are still trying to get a handle on this moving target. If you have reached out with no response, I’m sorry I couldn’t respond sooner. As a leader and supporter of our university, I know they have done all they could as soon as possible. Please join me in supporting our university when it most needs it.  

“I drafted this message last Thursday but was asked to wait to send it by the college. With the governor’s press conference a few moments ago, the college is no longer asking me to hold off on sending you my email.

“I traveled to Portugal for spring break and only had minor cold symptoms (sore throat, headaches, chills). When I returned to the US, we contacted the health department who told me that since I did not have severe enough symptoms (none of the trigger symptoms), I was not indicated for a test due to lack of accessibility. Monday, March 9, was the first day samples were able to be processed by commercial testing companies. I asked my PCP to test me regardless and they were given a response of “no tests available” perhaps due to my reported symptoms. Given UFCD’s policy, I reported to clinic because I neither had “cold symptoms” nor a “fever.” My emergency PCP is my father, so please know that the main threat our nation is facing right now is access to diagnostic tests. My dad had to quite literally keep bugging the commercial testing center to process my sample. My sample was finally processed, and the results came known to me Thursday morning.”

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  • Thats messed up no one wanted to test him now look! Hoping he gets better soon.

  • To be fair, it is difficult to blame this entirely on UF. The lack of testing is entirely the fault of things beyond their control. A lot of people had to make some difficult decisions in an unprecedented situation. I’m an online student in a different state, and I returned from a “hotspot” location after the break and was denied testing altogether, despite having all the symptoms and testing negative for influenza. I called the “official COVID-19 state hotline” here to request a test a second time and they told me it was “unnecessary” because this is “just like the flu” and did not even recommend that I self-isolate. When I asked, they told me “whatever you think is right!”

    So this is really what is happening everywhere in the US. I have actually been pretty impressed with the manner that UF has been handling it. They are doing their best, they could’ve done better, but there is a lot of misinformation and uncertainty and I don’t envy the position of the people at UF making these decisions right now.

    The fact of the matter is, this virus is EVERYWHERE in the US right now, and most are asymptomatic yet contagious. There is really nothing that can be done, the lack of immediate testing available months ago is to blame for this situation. UF can only do so much.

    • All the people who were exposed to the student Should have been quarantined immediately. This has nothing to do with testing.

  • It says that she reported to clinic…if you were a doctor who believed your daughter needed to be tested for Covid19 and had traveled out of country, why would you allow her to stay on campus and not be in self-quarantine? These kinds of stories are infuriating! And UF should be completely ashamed of itself. Kids were out and about everywhere in Gainesville for the past week while they knew about at least one of the four cases.

  • My wife works in the department in which this student is doing his rotation. He did everything right and informed everyone as soon as he knew what was going on. That being said, UF and Shands (and specifically that particular department) decided to hide the fact that there was a possible contamination in the department and did not notify most of the staff until this past Monday, 3/16/20, when they found out the previous Thursday, 3/12/20. Most of the staff were secretly told by residents, not the faculty or department chairs, who then followed it up with caution as they were worried they would have gotten in trouble. Instead of worrying about employees/students/patients or immediately addressing the issue head on with decisiveness and transparency, UF and Shands instead hid everything and potentially risked the staff and their family’s safety so they could discuss how to best handle the situation. We have a child with a significant health concern at still have not officially been told anything by the department or Shands of the potential risks. I am so frustrated and angry at the response to this incident by UF and Shands. I completely understand trying to figure out how to respond to an incident such as this. The planning should have already been made and instituted a month and a half ago when this was projected to be a pandemic, or even 2 weeks ago when it made its way to the US; not the day you encounter the incident. Hiding and suppressing information is what exacerbated everything in China, and has now put more people at risk here on Gainesville. This is absolutely unacceptable.

  • I understand the university has to strategize and determine their next move. This bothers me less. What bothers me is, once again, lack of testing. Absolutely unacceptable. Here is a person who comes in contact with many people. NO PCP should have to basically nag their way to have a test run. The headline here should focus on our inadequate testing rather than pointing a finger at UF. (However if what is above is true then shame on UF and Shands! This person’s peers should have been informed.) This whole situation is so bananas and so poorly handled ??? and frustrated.

  • This is nuts. UF shiuld have at least quarantined these students coming back with symptoms after spring break.

  • Shands can’t even properly diagnose patients or perform surgeries without leaving instruments/tools in their bodies. They have continuously let myself down, my family and even friends in this community.
    The nurses are constantly over worked, most of which are students with less than 2 years of education.
    Unless you are dying or have supreme health insurance to back you up, they’ll do anything to send you out fast.
    How are we to not ponder the fear of population control, when they barely put effort into containing potential carriers. This could have saved hundreds of people from becoming infected.
    They know damn well silencing the released patients raises the risk of spreading.

  • UF should have not let their kids return from Spring Break, My kid would have stayed at home, now he’s in Gainesville & has to drive 15 hrs. home…..UF was a week to late!

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