UCF sees spike in COVID-19 as student cases double in a week

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases.

Mask up or ship out. That's what UCF has been telling students for months in an effort to avoid what's happening now.

"We are tracing back some cases to the surrounding areas of UCF," said Dr. Raul Pino with the Department of Health for Orange County in a briefing on Monday. 

UCF COVID-19 cases more than doubled in a week. According to the dashboard, the number of positive student cases increased from 87 two weeks ago to 213 last week.

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"It is not totally unexpected. We actually knew that we would see an increase as the community opened up," said UCF student Development and Enrollment Services Vice President Dr. Maribeth Ehasz.

Administrators say the contact tracing is coming back to students at bars and restaurants on weekends not wearing masks.

"I’m not surprised the cases are doubling, from what I see on social media," said UCF sophomore Ian Beltran.

"Just people out at the clubs having a good time, which I mean I think you can have fun at the clubs or in the dorm," said UCF freshman Elizabeth Ammann.

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School officials also pointed out other reasons for the increase, including random testing on campus and the state moving into phase three of reopening. The school is now asking the community for help. 

"Asking for support from bars and other organizations to follow the guidelines that we expect of our students," said Dr. Ehasz.

UCF is shifting to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break for the rest of the semester. Administrators say most students are taking online classes anyway.

"My plan after Thanksgiving break is probably just to remain home and work from there," said Beltran.

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The school is hoping for less transmission and more honest self-reporting and quarantining by students.

"We want the campus to be able to be alive and full of life. We just have had to switch gears," said Dr. Ehasz.

The university stands by its enforcement of suspending students who don't follow COVID-19 protocols. They say a handful of students have been suspended so far this semester.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.