UCSD reports 10 students test positive for coronavirus; 1,800 are no-shows at dorms

Holly Fleurbaaig moves her belongings into the dormitories at UC San Diego.
Holly Fleurbaaig moves her belongings into the dormitories at UC San Diego on Sept. 19 with help from her mom, Chantelle, and dad, Graham.
(Sandy Huffaker / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Few of the roughly 5,700 undergraduates who moved into UC San Diego dormitories over the previous 10 days tested positive for the coronavirus, the university said Sept. 30. But about 1,800 students with reservations had yet to show up, underscoring lingering health safety concerns.

Campus officials said 10 students tested positive and were moved into temporary isolation lodging. A few more are likely to test positive during a second round of testing over the next two weeks, the university said. The numbers are slightly lower than campus predictions.

A low infection rate also was reported by the University of San Diego. Four of the 530 students who moved in Sept. 18-20 tested positive.

There were two infections among the 526 students who recently moved into Point Loma Nazarene University.

And eight of the 258 dorm students at Cal State San Marcos have tested positive since the semester began. There are no active infections.

San Diego State University’s student infection numbers continue to inch up, hitting 1,058 this week. But the infection rate has been slowing and the school will resume in-person classes for a small number of students Oct. 12.

Last spring, UC San Diego became one of the first major American research universities to test large numbers of students for the coronavirus. The testing became the basis for Return to Learn, an effort to house many students on campus and offer a limited number of in-person courses to the entire student body. The rest of the classes are being offered online.

The school decided early on to test dorm students as soon as they arrived. UCSD later added a second test, given 12 to 16 days after move-in, to make sure it’s not overlooking any infections.

“We are where we were hoping we’d be when we started this in April — with as many of our first-year students [in housing] as we could get,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, a UCSD professor of medicine who is helping to run Return to Learn.

“That’s a really important time for a lot of college kids. And we’ve got a pretty good handle on our surveillance [testing] system.”

UCSD also is phasing in a system in which it tests wastewater for the presence of the coronavirus to help identify and track down infected people.

The university introduced a cellphone app that notifies users if they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Nearly everyone was wearing face masks at UCSD the night of Sept. 26, including Laurel Feldner, a freshman from Irvine.

“We’re doing it to keep everyone safe, to avoid getting sick. We want to be here,” Feldner said.

Feldner and her classmates are taking nearly all of their classes online even though they’re living on campus.

“I’m sick of living at home with my parents,” said Jacob Chang, a freshman from Chicago. “Living on your own is a whole different experience.”

City News Service contributed to this report.