The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

BREAKING: Vanderbilt student tests positive for coronavirus in Chicago

The student said other students in the program had symptoms but were sent home from Italian facilities without getting tested.
Emily Gonçalves
Vanderbilt campus.

Last updated March 5 at 3:53 p.m. 

A Vanderbilt junior who was studying abroad in Florence has tested positive for coronavirus, the student told The Hustler. The student, who was part of the CET Florence program, is back in the U.S. in a Chicago hospital with mild symptoms. The Hustler granted the student anonymity due to the sensitive medical diagnosis.

The student departed Florence on Tuesday after the program encouraged all students to return to the United States. Then, the student tested positive for coronavirus the next day in Chicago.

The student told The Hustler that other Vanderbilt students in Florence had mild symptoms, but medical facilities sent them back to their residences in Florence to quarantine without getting tested unless they had severe pneumonia-like symptoms. This was to avoid exposing them to other patients in the hospital, the student reported being told.

“Now I’m getting calls from the CDC every 30 minutes asking me every person I’ve been in contact with and I’m saying, you know, I’m not the first person who was sick,” the student said. “It’s kind of like a massive cover-up by the Italian government.”

People in the United States have also reported having trouble accessing tests for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the CDC widened its criteria for administering tests for COVID-19. Previously, the CDC recommended only testing people who had recent exposure to a confirmed patient, had travelled to a country with an outbreak, or required hospitalization. The new standards allow clinicians to use their own discretion on testing symptomatic patients.

Universities including Columbia University and Stanford University have made the decision to suspend study abroad programs on March 4. Vanderbilt told The Hustler in an email they will be releasing updates soon. Vanderbilt canceled study abroad programs in Mainland China, and the Florence program was canceled Feb. 28 by CET.

COVID-19, part of the coronavirus family, originated in Wuhan, China. Currently, there are 96,800 cases worldwide and 3,300 deaths from coronavirus. The United States currently has 160 cases and 11 recorded deaths from the virus.  The first coronavirus case in Tennessee was confirmed in Williamson County morning of March 5; the patient is a 44-year-old man who is currently quarantined in his home. 

Vanderbilt is working with infection control experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and local and state public health officials. The Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) provides safety-related guidance and assistance for members of the Vanderbilt community on university-related travel.

At 1:22 p.m., Interim Chancellor Susan Wente sent an email to the Vanderbilt community about COVID-19; updates included the reported case in Tennessee and a Vanderbilt student returning from Florence reporting to have tested positive.

Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. Vanderbilt students should contact the Student Health Center, while faculty and staff should contact the Occupational Health Clinic for further evaluation.

This article will be updated as new information becomes available.

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About the Contributors
Eva Durchholz
Eva Durchholz, Former News Editor
Eva Durchholz ('20) studied public policy and medicine, health and society in the College of Arts and Science. She can be reached at [email protected].
Rachel Friedman
Rachel Friedman, Former Editor in Chief
Rachel Friedman was a student in the College of Arts & Science who studied history and mathematics. Before serving as Editor in Chief, Rachel was the Campus Editor of The Hustler. You can reach her at [email protected].
Immanual John Milton
Immanual John Milton, Former Editor in Chief
Immanual John Milton ('22) is from Minneapolis, MN. He studies computer science, economics and business. Before being Editor in Chief, Immanual was a deputy news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Emily Gonçalves
Emily Gonçalves, Former Multimedia Director
Emily Gonçalves (‘20) was the Multimedia Director of the Vanderbilt Hustler. She majored in Mathematics and Economics and minored in Latin American Studies. When she’s not taking photos, you can catch this Jersey girl making puns, singing, advocating for girls’ education and drinking lots of chocolate milk and espresso!
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Comments (6)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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Jason Katz
4 years ago

What university in Florence was this student at? That would be helpful.

4 years ago

Agreed with Carla 100%. Another long-time resident in Italy here now in the US. The statement that “it’s kind of like a massive cover-up by the Italian government” is childish and completely ludicrous, just as it is to print it. Read today’s article on NPR in which it is stated (and has been stated elsewhere, repeatedly): “Italy has carried out more than 36,359 tests for coronavirus — far more than any other European country.” Italy has been incredibly transparent about the situation there, and are testing left and right. The program where this student was studying in Florence permitted students who were concerned to leave early, when the CDC alert level was still at 2, and yet this particular student chose to stay, knowing the risks. When the CDC alert reached 3, the program, like many others in Italy, closed down for the semester encouraging all students to leave.

An Alumnus
4 years ago

It leads every person clicking the clickbait headline to believe that a student AT Vanderbilt has coronavirus, stirring unfounded fears about an outbreak at the university itself. In reality, the student was never at Vanderbilt during the infection process – all I’m saying is that it’s misleading.

4 years ago

I lived in Italy for a long time and this does NOT sound like Italian procedure and doubt this story is accurate. I’d like to see their paperwork on their hospital visit. Please don’t feed people’s fears with exaggerated stories.

How ?
4 years ago

How exactly?

An Alumnus
4 years ago

This is a ridiculously misleading headline.