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Health department, University of Kentucky report conflicting virus case numbers for students

Posted at 7:29 AM, Sep 01, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's been a unique start to the fall semester at the University of Kentucky, but freshman Caden Jessop said he's never known anything different.

He's been able to make friends, he said, though socializing is difficult when social distancing is required.

"I spent like the first two days walking around having to introduce myself to people because people can't really gather," Jessop said. "So you gotta kinda like be very like outgoing."

He hopes his in-person classes continue, he said, though he's been nervous after hearing of other universities sending students home because of coronavirus outbreaks.

As of Monday, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department had reported 760 cases of coronavirus in University of Kentucky students.

"We're seeing about half to 60 percent of the cases coming from UK students that are being tested at multiple spots," said Kevin Hall, communications director for the health department.

But in an email Monday, University of Kentucky Spokesman Jay Blanton said the university's positivity rate has remained below two percent during its first phase of mandatory testing as it was sent results from other testing locations.

The university's website lists 254 positive cases as of Aug. 22.

Blanton also questioned if the health department's numbers include cases from last semester and if all those considered students will be on campus in any capacity.

"Our focus in testing has always been – and will continue to be – students who will be on campus for any reason," Blanton wrote.

The university also remains in a good place with other factors it's tracking, he said, like PPE, critical care beds and quarantining space.

UK is close to completing re-testing in students who participate in sororities and fraternities, he said, who had higher positivity rates during the first round of testing.

"It's a tough call but I think they're doing it well," Jessop said of the university's precautions during the pandemic.

He's willing to do what it takes to continue his freshman year, he said.