Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that four University of Florida students have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and college campuses will close for the remainder of the semester.
The university asked students who have not yet returned home to do so and for employees who can, to work from home. University of Florida president Kent Fuchs said classes will go online in compliance with the Governor’s order.
“All students and employees are strongly urged to practice social distancing in their studies, work and personal lives. Your health and safety is our top priority,” he said in a statement.
The Board of Governors has directed all state universities to do online classes through the rest of the spring semester. It’s also encouraging, but not requiring the schools to teach online for the early summer courses. The BOG is also canceling May on-campus graduation ceremonies. Universities are to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivering the commencement.
“The State University System is actively monitoring conditions in the State of Florida as it pertains to COVID-19 and working closely with Gov. DeSantis and state officials to take all actions necessary to protect the health and safety of our campus communities.”
This all happened as the total number of Florida cases climbed to 192, according to the Department of Health. Six Floridians have died from the virus, the latest a 77-year-old male in Broward County, connected to an assisted living facility, who had significant underlying medical problems.
All individuals at that facility have been isolated.
DeSantis added that students at universities have been congregating, and moving to remote learning will keep students home.
The state has taken several measures to reduce gatherings but left the door open for local governments to go further.
Restaurants will operate at 50% capacity with employees undergoing health questions to be allowed to work. Still, DeSantis encouraged people to order delivery rather than dine in.
“This is the floor for Florida for the foreseeable future.”
Beaches won’t close, but the state will enforce President Donald Trump’s recommended maximum gathering size of 10 people statewide at those beaches. More than 10 people can be at the beach, but not in groups larger than 10.
The state lists a total number of positive cases at 173 residents and 19 non-residents.
Four Alachua County cases are in the Department of Health’s public database right now, including two men and two women. Ages of patients range from 21 to 64.
Florida officials are continuing to monitor 558 individuals for coronavirus. A total of 2004 individuals have been tested in Florida, and 940 of those results have come back negative. That leaves hundreds of tests still pending.
Field hospitals and additional supplies had been distributed throughout the state, but particularly The Villages.
In Broward County, the state will open its drive-thru testing site later this week. The National Guard is on standby there.
“Unlike a hurricane where we send in an 18-wheeler of water and that’s it, this is a 24-hour operation,” said Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.