How USF is keeping an incredibly low COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.002%

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – Colleges everywhere are battling COVID-19 clusters but the University of South Florida is boasting an incredibly low positivity rate. That got us wondering what are they doing to keep the numbers so low?

According to USF, the school’s positivity rate is 0.002%.

Since classes started at USF, only 129 students have tested positive for COVID-19. There’s more than 50,000 students at the school, according to a spokesman.

“From what I’ve noticed, a lot of us are very conscious about it,” said Rebecca Schverak, a junior at the school.

“I think everyone’s doing pretty good about wearing the masks,” said freshman Madison Santalucia.

8 On Your Side compared USF’s COVID-19 data to that of the three other major public universities in Florida.

356 students have tested positive at University of Florida.

802 students have tested positive at University of Central Florida.

1,230 students have tested positive at Florida State University.

But before drawing any conclusions, you should know that each institution tests, tracks and reports coronavirus cases differently.

For example, UCF started tracking cases in March at the beginning of the pandemic and also include off-campus cases in their official count.

Meanwhile, FSU has done close to 15,000 COVID-19 tests while UF has conducted more than 25,000 tests between students and faculty.

Dr. Donna Petersen is the Dean at USF’s College of Public Health.

“This is a very fluid situation,” said Dr. Petersen.

Despite reporting differences, Dr. Petersen believes there’s truly very little virus on campus. The school’s comprehensive plan is working.

“We’re also taking samples of surfaces in highly trafficked areas, to see if there’s any presence of the virus on door handles, bathroom fixtures, desktops,” said Dr. Petersen. “We did detect some presence of the virus… we tested everyone in that space.”

Additionally, USF randomly tests about one to two percent of the on-campus population each week.

“It also lets us begin to estimate the prevalence of the virus on our campus,” said Dr. Petersen. “The beauty of statistics is it allows you to draw a small sample.”

USF does believe their positivity rate is completely accurate and think a big part of the low rate is their students who are taking a conscious effort to wear a mask, avoid crowds, and stay socially distant.

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