May 28, 2020
As university task forces plan for a return to campus that prioritizes the health and safety of everyone in our community, it is critical that each of us continues to take personal responsibility when it comes to protecting ourselves, our loved ones and everyone we come in contact with.
COVID-19 remains a contagious illness that poses the possibility of exposure in any public place where people are present, and it will be part of our reality for the foreseeable future. But the small steps each of us take — even the ones that seem strange or inconvenient — are key to helping our world get past this pandemic.
Contact Tracing and Testing Task Force
One big step UCF is taking is exploring options for testing, screening and contact tracing in coordination with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.
I am leading this task force in fine-tuning systems to allow our community to be widely and regularly tested for COVID-19; developing a protocol for using trained student volunteers deputized by the health department to trace potential outbreaks; and designing a mobile app to promote early detection and safety measures.
I look forward to sharing outcomes of these discussions as we finalize our plans in the next few weeks.
Antibody Testing Now Available in Garage A
Antibody testing is now available to all members of the UCF community and the general public at Garage A. Public health officials continue to emphasize that more widely available testing is a critical component in understanding the extent and risk of COVID-19.
Antibody tests will be offered along with continued COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and by appointment as part of UCF’s partnership with Aventus Biolabs.
Insurers will cover the costs of the tests and telehealth visits, which are required to obtain an appointment for both types of tests. Federal grant funding will cover these costs for the uninsured.
Antibody tests will tell people whether they have been exposed to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is currently unclear whether antibodies provide immunity to COVID-19. However, the tests can help individuals understand if they had the virus previously, especially if they had no symptoms.
There are still many unanswered questions about COVID-19, but a few things are certain:
- Precautionary physical distancing must continue.
- Wearing a face covering is important indoors and in outdoor spaces where a distance of 6 feet apart is not possible.
- Frequent hand washing and good hand hygiene are key to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
I encourage you to visit UCF’s coronavirus website for regular updates over the coming weeks.
I know this has been a challenging period for so many of us, and by now, we may be feeling restless and eager for a return to normal. I am optimistic that if we remain vigilant, that time will come, but we must proceed with caution and patience.
COVID-19 is much larger than any one of us, and it will take each of us each doing our individual parts to see this through.
Dr. Michael Deichen, MD, MPH
Associate Vice President of UCF Student Health Services