18 anesthesiologists at UF hospital system reportedly contract COVID-19 after attending private party

FILE - Gainesville, University of Florida, campus entrance with students.

Citing an internal email regarding a coronavirus outbreak involving several anesthesiologist residents at University of Florida Health, The Miami Herald reported that 14 junior residents, two senior residents, a fellow and an administrative employee contracted COVID-19 after attending a private party.

According to the Herald, an email which was obtained by Fresh Take Florida, a news service operated by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, was sent out by the chairman of anesthesiology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Timothy E. Morey, addressing the hospital system’s anesthesiology department, which reportedly had 18 positive cases of individuals who were recovering at home. 

The Herald reported that the email stated that the department “wishes them well and a speedy return to good health.”

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Ken Garcia of the University of Florida’s Health Communications office would not confirm the identities of the individual residents who allegedly contracted the novel coronavirus while attending a party, but said that with nearly 12,000 employees, UF Health has “had a very small number of health care workers test positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began months ago.”

“Given the nature of a pandemic this is to be expected and we have robust processes and protocols in place that follow CDC guidance and public health best practices to immediately isolate anyone who falls ill, and our disease investigators work through the public health department to perform contact tracing and quarantine anyone considered to be at risk,” Garcia said. 

Without specifically addressing the 18 anesthesiology residents in the email reported by the Herald, Garcia added, “The vast majority of our employees who tested positive over the past few months appear to have acquired COVID-19 in the community, not in the hospital setting.”

According to the Herald, the email did not contain any information as to whether the anesthesiology residents would return after recovering, but Garcia said that most employees “have been cleared to return to work, and at no time did this impact our ability to care for patients.”

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“UF Health educates our faculty, staff and students on best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on and off-duty. Our goal is to minimize the spread of the illness on our campus and in our community, recognizing that it’s impossible to prevent all cases given the way pandemics naturally work,” Garcia said. “State and federal privacy laws are such that we often can’t comment on specific situations, and like any business, employees on occasion get sick. As a health care system, we follow a variety of processes and protocols designed to reduce risk and the chances of that happening.”