COVID, flu cases increasing on campus, Tatum says

Photo courtesy: FAMU Student Health Services’ website

As winter break concludes and students transition into the new semester, health concerns cast a shadow over academic endeavors. Recent extreme weather conditions, coupled with severe thunderstorms and a two-day hard freeze warning, have heightened anxieties among students, leading to an increase in flu and COVID-related symptoms.

“We have seen an increase in numbers with COVID and the flu,” said Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services at Florida A&M. “We typically see a spike around this time of year, partly because people are coming back to campus from being at home and being around lots of other people. The cold doesn’t help the matter any.”

This seasonal surge in health issues is further compounded by the unpredictable weather changes. Zania Ricks, a fourth year pre-occupational therapy student at FAMUJ, shared a personal experience.

“I was recently sick with the flu. I think the weather contributed to my body not fully healing and returning to full health due to the cold temperatures,” she said.

Tatum emphasizes the importance of proactive measures.

 “I would advise students to take advantage of preventative measures when you can. I think that our vaccinations are something to seriously consider for COVID and the flu. Even though they may not guarantee complete immunity, they significantly reduce the chances of contracting them and developing severe cases,” Tatum said.

She also warns against large gatherings that tend to take place frequently on campus

“Have an understanding that when and if you are in an area where there are lots of people around and it is a closed environment, limit your time there and pick up a mask. Individuals that have underlying health conditions also need to take a little more precaution.”

Ricks, mirroring this sentiment given her recent illness, outlined her commitment to personal responsibility moving forward.

 “I am making sure I continue to use hand sanitizer after touching items, bringing my mask with me, and truthfully staying inside more,” she said.

According to the Florida Department of Health’s Florida Influenza Surveillance Review,  there have been recent reported flu cases over the past two weeks. These numbers underscore the tangible impact of weather conditions on student health and highlight the urgency of adopting initiative-taking health measures.

As students navigate the challenges posed by winter, a health-centric approach becomes paramount. Vaccinations, consistent hygiene practices, and mindful behavior in crowded spaces are crucial for safeguarding individual and collective well-being.

By leveraging available resources and embracing personal responsibility, students can collectively foster a culture of health, ensuring a resilient and flourishing academic experience.