ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The University of Central Florida (UCF) has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases tracing it back to bars and gatherings. Some of the contact tracers behind the scenes are students themselves who are working to stop the spread.
It's not your typical college experience, but six UCF students volunteer as contact tracers for the university. UCF Senior Desiree Rivera has been a volunteer contact tracer since June where she has been calling her classmates to find out how they got COVID-19 and who else they could have infected.
"I was just thinking about how unexpected this opportunity was," Rivera said. "Definitely didn't think I'd be doing anything like this going into my final semester."
UCF Health Services teamed up with the Florida Department of Health to do contact tracing in cases on and near campus. Students were trained and do 10 hours a week of tracing. The school says a large number of positive cases have been found because of contact tracing.
There's a reason behind having students as contact tracers. Dr. Jascinth Lindo with UCF's Contact Tracing Committee says it's to help the student who tested positive open up.
"We do believe students are more likely, to be honest with their peers to say where they've been and so on," Dr. Lindo said.
Rivera says she's seen it work first-hand.
"Some people have been willing to state where they've been and who they've been with and some have not," Rivera said. "That's part of the student-to-student thing. Our job is to help them feel more comfortable."
UCF is currently working on training another group of contact tracers.