UC San Diego reports surge in coronavirus infections among students since return from holidays
UC San Diego says 245 of its students have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus since the winter quarter began Jan. 4 — the kind of surge the university avoided last fall through a major testing and education campaign called “Return to Learn.”
University data show that 109 of those students live at UCSD, which has one of the most comprehensive coronavirus testing programs in academia. The 136 other students are living off campus in the San Diego area. UCSD also said that 61 of its employees have tested positive for the virus.
The university added that since the beginning of the year, people testing positive have appeared at more than 20 residence halls, the main student union, the Telemedicine Building, Biological Research Facility II, where some virus testing is managed, major research and classroom buildings, dining halls, the school’s new Target store, the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and the Nimitz Marine Facility at San Diego Bay.
“[Eighty-five percent] of the on-campus students who are infected went home for the holiday and are testing positive during the incubation period following their return,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, a professor of medicine who is helping run Return to Learn.
“Our interpretation is that they acquired the virus in the community during the break. Going home during a raging pandemic is a dangerous thing. The on-campus case rate is now declining to pre-break levels as we work through the infections that came back from the winter break.”
About 7,300 students currently are living on campus, a figure the university hopes to significantly increase by early February.
Fewer than 40 students tested positive for the virus last fall when students moved into campus dorms. ◆
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