MDC Employee In Quarantine; Medical Campus Shuts Down Amid Coronavirus

A Miami Dade College employee is in quarantine after a Brazilian official that visited Medical Campus on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The College did not release the name of the employee, but they are expected to remain at home for two weeks.

On Thursday morning, MDC announced that Medical Campus would close down indefinitely.  

Employees from the Medical Campus will work from home, and could use a telecommunication system to conduct meetings. Classes that were scheduled at the campus will be held online through Blackboard, according to Mendieta. The College’s other seven campuses remain open. 

Fábio Wajngarten, the communications secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for the virus, according to Brazil’s press department. He accompanied Bolsonaro during a trip to the Medical Campus on Monday to meet with the local Brazilian community at a non-MDC event. 

View of the Medical Campus.
Shut Down: A Miami Dade College employee is being quarantined after a Brazilian official visited the Center For Learning, Innovation And Simulation (pictured above) at Medical Campus on Monday and tested positive for the coronavirus. VANESSA GIMENEZ/THE REPORTER

The group rented the space and no MDC official or student was in attendance, according to Juan Mendieta, the College’s director of communications. He did not know where the event was held, but said it was in one of the meeting rooms at the Center For Learning, Innovation And Simulation. 

Mendieta said both of the meeting rooms have not been in use since Monday. The space isn’t used by students, and is rented out to outside companies to conduct meetings and training sessions.   

In a photo published by the International Business Times on Monday, Bolsonaro is seen posing for a selfie in a cramped room with what appears to be more than 100 guests at the Medical Campus event. Wajngarten does not appear to be in the photo. 

The College is working with local health officials to address how to clean the property. They contacted a local biohazard squad, but it’s unclear when the service will begin and what exactly will be done, Mendieta said. The College will pay the cost upfront, but could be reimbursed by the local government as an emergency management aid. 

“This isn’t the type of work a regular custodian can do,” Mendieta said. “This is going to require more of a thorough cleaning.”

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. It can be spread when someone makes contact with a hard surface or object that carries the virus, and proceeds to touch their mouth, nose or eyes, according to the World Health Organization.

Wajngarten is currently quarantined at his home in Brazil. The country’s press department said they notified the authorities in the United States of Wajngarten’s diagnoses so they could take the necessary safety measures. 

Meanwhile at MDC,  the school announced it was canceling all events and gatherings until further notice following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ recommendation to do so. 

Among the events that were canceled were the reminder of the Miami Film Festival, which was currently in its seventh day. The festival hosts movie screenings, parties and Q & A sessions, for thousands of filmmakers and movie aficionados. It was scheduled to end on March 15. 

On March 17, the College postponed the 2020 Commencement Ceremonies that were scheduled for May 2. A new date has yet to be announced.  

Other cancellations include MDC Live Arts one-man performance show, The Truth has Changed, by environmental activist Josh Fox’s scheduled for March 12-21 and the Jazz at Wolfson presents event featuring violinist Sara Caswell on March 18. 

As a preventive measure, the baseball team canceled its game against Indian River State College in Fort Pierce on March 11. They made up the game on Thursday, and won 7-3, but MDC announced late Thursday that all athletic events are cancelled indefinitely.  

The baseball team and softball teams were currently in season. The regular season was  scheduled to run through April. 

Staff Writer Jose Tovar contributed  to this story.