Florida college students test positive for coronavirus after going on spring break; the warning to young people
At least five students from the University of Tampa have tested positive for coronavirus after traveling with other students from the school for spring break, the university announced on Twitter. This comes after crowds of spring-breakers in Florida were criticized for ignoring social distancing guidelines and packing beaches in complete disregard of the potential risk.
The University of Tampa announced on Friday that it learned that one student, who resides off-campus, tested positive for the virus. Just a day later, the school confirmed that five students, who were part of a larger group traveling together during spring break, had tested positive.
UT has been notified that five UT students, traveling together and with other UT students during Spring Break, have tested positive for COVID-19. We sincerely wish our students, and any others who may be affected, a full and rapid recovery. https://t.co/MXl4e1v3gh
— The University of Tampa (@UofTampa) March 21, 2020
The school moved all of its classes to online instruction on March 17, but some students were still in close contact with each other over spring break and in the school’s residential halls, which are still open.
While President Trump announced new recommendations last week to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, many people across the country are still ignoring that warning. Spring-breakers seen in a viral video posted by CBS News downplayed catching the deadly virus while partying in Miami.
Brady Sluder, one of the young people in the video, said, “whatever happens happens” — showing little concern about the virus.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” Sluder said. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying. I’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while. About two months we’ve had this trip planned, two, three months, and we’re just out here to have a good time.”
Many Florida beaches have since been shut down. But Sluder and other students in the video earned fierce criticism online — especially because public health officials say it’s urgent for Americans to work together to “flatten the curve.” The way to do that, experts say, is social distancing and staying home.
“Is it really worthwhile to do all of this social distancing and handwashing? The answer is yes,” CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said on “CBS This Morning” earlier this month. “Normally, right now — without any measures — the epidemic might go up [sharply] and go down. That peak number of cases could overload the system and that’s what people are worried about.”
The goal of flattening the curve is to prevent a huge spike in cases that overwhelms the ability hospitals to help them all and to spread out the number of patients out over time. White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said millennials are crucial in flattening the curve.
“We know that we have a large group of millennials between 25 and almost 40. They are really key to this. They’re a social group. So that [gatherings of] no more than 10 is very much focused on them to really say, even if you’re home, don’t have gatherings more than 10,” Birx told “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell.
Many millennials and even younger people might be ignoring these social distancing warnings because they think coronavirus won’t affect them — but they’re wrong. While patients age 60 or older or those with underlying health issues face the highest risk of death from the virus, younger people are also getting seriously ill. Nearly one-third of confirmed cases in the U.S., and 20% of those hospitalized, were between the ages 20 and 44, according to CDC data released last week.
So younger adults actually accounted for a large portion of the hospitalizations. Spring-breakers who did not practice social distancing could have done more damage than they thought.
“This big idea of social distancing, we can’t hammer it home enough,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula said on “CBS This Morning” last week. “This comes down to something we call the reproduction factor — that’s how infectious I am. So if I [hypothetically] have the disease, I can spread it, we think with coronavirus, to three people.”
“That reproduction number is affected by the virus properties itself, who is susceptible, but also the duration of contact with individuals and the number of people you contact,” Narula said. Decreasing the number of people you contact and the duration can significantly slow down the spread of the virus, she said.