College students account for almost 70% of Alachua County COVID cases since classes began

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Alachua County coronavirus cases have a clear trend in the most recent data. People aged 15 to 24 account for approximately 90% of the cases in the county.

To dive deeper, we spoke with Alachua County Public Schools to see if the cases were potentially due to public schools returning.

“Right now we have 8 active student cases," says ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson. "Most of them are in our elementary schools, but the one thing that we want to point out is that right now there is absolutely no indication that any of those students got them at school and that has been confirmed by the health department.”

Of the 8 students at ACPS, only one is in high school, so what is the reason for the spike in young adults?

Paul Myers, director of Alachua County Health Department says there is no question about who is driving the transmission right now.

“Clearly college students are doing that and more specifically what we are seeing is it’s not transmission on campus per say,” says Myers. "It’s not the classes. It’s in the dorms, it’s in the greek communities, it’s in the off campus apartments.”

UF officials say they knew a spike would occur when students returned, and they are updating their plan to keep everybody safe regularly.

“we’ve had a plan going into the fall semester. We’ve had a plan since the summer that we spent months developing. Any good plan is always going to be adjusted as conditions change and we have to adapt to them," says UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. "We definitely are looking at increased testing. We are doing testing at the student healthcare center as well as through screen test and protect. We have pop up testing going on around campus in various areas. So testing is key to it and we are trying to ramp up our testing capabilities.”

As sporting events return to campus and we move into flu season, it will be very important for everybody to follow the safety guidelines.

Myers also emphasized getting the flu shot as soon as it becomes available because you certainly don’t want to get COVID and the flu at the same time.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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