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February 11, 2021

As the CDC has reported, more-infectious variants of COVID-19 are spreading across the United States, and we must double-down on our COVID-19 precautions and assume that these variants are widespread in our community and will become more dominant.

In particular, the UK variant has a strong foothold in Florida, and last week it was found in Orange County. This week, we learned that this strain is on our campus, with a report of one student case. UCF has enacted our standard contact tracing and isolation processes.

This is a reminder that we must work even harder to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as the roll out of vaccines continues in our community. While vaccines are proven effective against COVID-19 and the emerging variants, we also know that habitual mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand sanitizing also prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The tools that we use to fight this variant are no different than the steps we have taken for nearly a year. COVID-19 and these new variants are not easily transmissible when face coverings are worn properly, physical distancing is maintained, and hands are regularly sanitized.

We must continue to Armor Up wherever we go, and we are sharing new and enhanced CDC guidance on how to properly wear a face mask, one of the most important protective measures you can take. The new CDC guidance recommends that masks fit snugly with multiple layers or a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

We can control the spread of COVID-19 if we remain diligent and take the steps necessary to keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe.

Contact tracing tells us that small group gatherings continue to be a source of UCF’s positive cases. We encourage you to limit interactions with people outside of your immediate pod, especially when masks are not worn. If you are sick, stay home and monitor your symptoms so you do not put others at risk. If you find yourself in a situation that goes against public health recommendations, remove yourself.

This is not a time to panic, but rather to remember how important it is to prioritize health and safety by adopting the practices that are proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and these emerging variants.

Wear your mask, maintain your distance, wash your hands — Armor Up, Knights!

Dr. Michael Deichen, MD, MPH
Associate Vice President of UCF Student Health Services