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Combating COVID-19 as students return to Gainesville: Commissioners discuss preventative measures ahead of football season

City commissioners worry about college students congregating for football game tailgates and spreading coronavirus.
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 11:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The streets are starting to fill with students back in Gainesville for the Fall semester. It’s raised concerns from city commissioners meeting virtually to discuss how to prevent an outbreak.

To combat the spread, some mention potentially working to cancel the football season. One commissioner added, “they’re coming from all over the state and we don’t know what kinds of COVID restrictions have been in those counties.”

It's an idea that City Commissioner David Arreola imagines would save lives in the long run. "But from my position, the most important thing is going to be everyone's safety," said Arreola. "Because pandemics, historically, do pass, they do come to an end. And it's important to me that every breathing body gets to that end. We don't need any unnecessary casualties whether it's for school or football or anything else."

While some city commissioners raise concerns about a crowded football season, college students head on back to Gainesville for the start of classes. City Manager Lee Feldman says to combat community spread of COVID-19, they need to collaborate.

A rising UF senior said, "I really think that there needs to be some sort of social interaction going into this year with all the football games."

Public relations student Caroline Lee agrees safety should be the first priority but hopes city leaders avoid canceling football season. "But it's definitely disappointing if they do cancel football season because it's such a special atmosphere and the crowd," said Lee. "It's so exciting being in this crowd and watching the team so it'll definitely be disappointing but we will find ways around it to hang out as well."

In a joint city/county meeting on Aug. 26, measures to keep coronavirus from spreading will be discussed with UF officials.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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