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FAMU warns of spreading COVID-19 during holiday break after campus cases triple

Posted at 6:18 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 18:18:07-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Just before students plan to head home for the holidays, local universities brace for a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Students and staff across Florida A&M University's campus urge their peers to be more careful as cases spike for students living both off and on campus.

"I haven't seen it personally, but, I mean, if there is one, then that's a sign that right there that may be coming back to campus was a mistake in the grand scheme of things," said Robert Hampton, a psychology student at FAMU.

Students like Hampton are heeding FAMU leadership warnings as they learn of the nearly tripling number of COVID-19 cases on campus.

"We added 49 new cases last week," said Tanya Tatum, the director of Health Services at FAMU.

That's up from just 17 the week before. Many of those cases show up in student housing, like Palmetto North, with 11 cases, and even more in more densely populated dorms.

"I probably have cases in probably every residence hall that we have," Tatum said. "And like I said, we have cases with students that are staying off campus also. The vast majority of positive cases are off-campus as opposed to on-campus, but at the same time, we do have a large number of individuals in the village just because it is our largest facility."

The University reorganized housing to have only one student per bedroom at the start of the semester. Students in the Villages, however, still share bathrooms. The biggest concern, though, is off-campus and after-hours activities.

"They enjoyed a few too many parties," said Tatum. "And one a few places that we really wish they hadn't."

Tatum says the university reinstated their 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for students staying on campus to help slow the spread
"I feel like the curfew is one of the smartest things because you know it is college, and college kids like to party, so just letting that curfew and making sure that they stay indoors instead of going to parties and put themselves and their loved ones at risk, that's smart," said Joshana Bien-Aime, and senior at FAMU.

The university plans to send messages to students next week with information that will help keep students from spreading COVID-19 to friends and family while they are home and from bringing it back to campus when they return.

"I just feel like I'm not trying to become one of those people who has a regret, and they're sitting in quarantine because they did something that they know they could've avoided," Bien-Aime said.

Students are scheduled to begin Thanksgiving break next Tuesday.