Tallahassee leaders stress need for accountability from college students as COVID-19 cases rise

Posted at 6:16 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 18:16:55-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Since August 2, Florida State University has cumulatively seen more than 1,000 student cases of COVID-19, and it's a matter of growing concern for the Tallahassee and Leon County communities.

FSU has taken measures to mitigate the spread for students living on campus, like designating dorms to quarantine students, offering testing at the Donald L. Tucker Center, and beginning randomized testing on Monday.

Even after the Department of Health identified more than 250 cases coming from the campus last week, FSU points to declining numbers of overall positivity. Their rate, now 12.9 percent, is down from 21 percent last week.

Students and local leaders agree. They think the university is doing a good job of limiting interaction between students on campus.

"But they're having a more difficult time with student activities off-campus," said Vince Long, a Leon County administrator.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says the city is looking at the issue, noting a sharp increase in the number of positive cases in the college-age group, but also noting that the number of hospitalizations is holding steady. He says that is a big factor leaders are watching before taking additional action.

"Every day we work together to try to quell the spread of COVID-19 and we are not afraid to take the actions needed," said Dailey.

County leaders also concerned about how college students contribute to the large gatherings most likely to spread COVID -9

"That's what we're focused on," Long said. "Through our efforts as well as the university's efforts and law enforcement to try to disperse crowds and try to work with students and encourage them to work with us."

Students also say it's important for them to take responsibility to help protect the community.

"I think they can stay away from large gatherings and use a little more common sense," said Will Lane, a senior at FSU.

Both city and county leaders, urging students to be safe and smart for the sake of the community.

"When we see images of people socially out gathering without their mask - without social distancing, we see them at our sporting events, that's not good," said Dailey. "It's not the direction that we need to go. We need to work together. Everybody's got a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community."

Dailey emphasized efforts by the county and Florida A&M University to institute curfews and mandatory mask ordinances.

The city continues to monitor the number of cases across campus and within the community, and Dailey says they are not afraid to take similar additional actions to ensure public safety.

FAMU's curfew for students on campus is in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on weekends.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering