Florida universities struggle to control students, spread of COVID-19

Colleges and universities across the country are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. Experts say the campus environment is ripe for so-called super-spreader events, and students need to take responsibility.

All it takes is one sick person and a few cases of COVID-19 on campus can turn into dozens or even hundreds.

“I didn’t even know the person who had COVID until they gave it to my girlfriend and then she gave it to me, and then I might have given it to some other people without knowing it,” said George Fairchild, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Florida.

He says he is hearing of more and more positive cases on campus.

According to public health experts, colleges and universities have become hotspots for virus transmission.

“They’re gonna have parties, they’re gonna have social events, it’s kind of natural for young people going away to school, especially for the first time,” said USF’s Dr. Jay Wolfson.

University officials are finding it's hard to control what students do, especiall if it's happening off-campus.

“40% of the people who have this disease are asymptomatic, so they don’t even know they’ve got it,” Wolfson said.  “They’re gonna spread it if they join other people.”

Schools have implemented policies to try to control the coronavirus on-campus. Some have had to suspend in-person classes, shut down facilities, and postpone sporting events.

“Each one of the young students, freshman through seniors and graduate students, are going to have to exercise a kind of discipline they may not want to exercise,” said Wolfson. “It’s tough, but it will protect your parents, your grandparents, your family members, your friends, and ultimately it will protect you from possibly getting a secondary new chronic disease you’ve never had before in your life.”