Looking To the Future

Dear Campus Community,

After the COVID-19 delta wave of late summer subsided, we began to transition all services provided by UF Health Screen, Test & Protect to the Florida Department of Health in tandem with our existing health system infrastructure. This move is helping us establish a sustainable approach to addressing the impact of COVID long-term, including the natural ebb and flow of the virus as it becomes endemic. We remain committed to making key health services available — testing, contact tracing and withholding from campus those individuals who have COVID or are unvaccinated contacts to cases.

Our new plan allows us to rapidly scale up within a few days to provide whatever level of support is necessary to meet new challenges as they arise.

The same UF Health team that staffed Screen, Test & Protect is providing these services, with contact tracing activities operating under the Florida Department of Health.

We also continue epidemiological monitoring on campus and in the community, with molecular sequencing to detect any new variants of concern. Our UF Health colleagues with expertise in epidemiology and infectious diseases will continue to provide pertinent information on any new developments.

Get vaccinated!

It is important to note that if we have learned anything during the pandemic, it is that things change quickly and, despite all we have learned, much remains to be understood. For example, as we begin the spring semester, early research shows the newest variant of concern — omicron — may not cause as severe illness as previous variants. However, it is clear it spreads much more quickly, especially among those who are unvaccinated and those who have not received a booster shot.

Free and easy-to-access vaccines remain available through the Student Health Care Center, the health department, UF Health pharmacies, UF Health Physicians practices and over 30 retail pharmacies and health practices in the community.

Expanded testing

Testing demand has been very high and access to testing is an issue nationally. In response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, we have expanded our testing schedule, effective Thursday, Jan. 6, as shown below. This schedule will continue as necessary for what we believe will be a relatively short-lived surge in mostly mild cases due to omicron.

We ask for your patience as we expect demand for testing will be high in the first several days while we are ramping up the new schedule.

If you have COVID symptoms, you may go to ONE.UF to schedule a test. Please do not get tested if you are asymptomatic and have been vaccinated and boosted. This will help us focus our testing efforts on those with symptoms and who are more likely to have significant infection.

New testing schedule at Gate 7, North End Zone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, with number of tests available on each day, by appointment:

  • Thursday, Jan. 6: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (1,000)
  • Friday, Jan. 7: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (1,500)
  • Saturday: Jan. 8: no testing
  • Sunday: Jan. 9: 1 p.m.-4 p.m. (500)
  • Monday – Friday, Jan. 10-Jan. 14: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (1,500)

In addition, we have acquired 3,000 rapid antigen tests that have been deployed in the residence halls and key locations for use by by students living in residence halls, even if their symptoms are mild. These supplies are very limited but will help us meet testing demand in the short term.

If you test positive for COVID-19 through a PCR, rapid antigen or any at-home test, please call the DOH COVID-19 Operations team at 352-273-9790 to report your case.

If you come in close contact to a positive case, please go to ONE.UF to report your exposure on the screener. A close contact is someone who was within six feet of you for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the start of their symptoms.

Please continue to do things that will help minimize spread of the virus: Stay home if you have symptoms and get tested even if you have mild symptoms.Wear a mask, preferably an N95 or KN95, indoors. And most important, get vaccinated and, if already vaccinated, get a booster shot.

Stay tuned for more updates. We will get through this together as safely as possible.

Michael Lauzardo, MD, MSc
Deputy Director, Emerging Pathogens Institute
Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine
UF College of Medicine