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UC Berkeley Students Warned Of Growing COVID-19 Outbreak

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- UC-Berkeley officials warned Sunday of a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases after 44 students tested positive for the virus over the weekend.

Since August, officials said, there have been 588 confirmed cases among the student population. But the university's COVID dashboard shows that 44 people tested positive on Saturday, representing 3.2% of the 1,362 tests analyzed.

"As you may be aware, we've seen a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst students, including some students who live in campus housing," the officials warned in an email to its student population. "As we are committed to your safety and well-being, we are asking for your help in reducing virus transmission."

Among the behaviors officials cautioned about was the tendency for students to gather with classmates and friends.

"We understand that local shelter in place orders may have been lifted, but with the current levels of rising transmission, we need to each do all that we can to help keep ourselves and our community healthy," the warning stated. "Berkeley remains in the Purple Tier, due to widespread community transmission, and the current public health order prohibits gathering indoors with people outside your household."

University officials had set up quarantine housing for students who test positive. The current outbreak is putting a strain on those resources.

"Due to this surge, our quarantine housing is experiencing higher than normal occupancy," officials said. "When a person has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, that person must quarantine, per public health requirements. The campus maintains quarantine space at the Foothill Housing complex for students who live on campus and learn they must quarantine, but that space is limited."

Among the steps officials urged students to take were:

  • Do not attend any gatherings or events. We cannot stress this enough - right now it is critical that you avoid gatherings - large or small - with people outside your immediate residential "bubble" (i.e., people who you do not immediately live with), especially inside, and even if your most recent COVID test is negative.
  • Participate in mandatory regular, free surveillance testing: All residents in our residential halls, apartments and suites are required to test twice-per-week. Schedule your test.
  • Any student experiencing symptoms or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 (or any students with concerns), please stay in your room and follow the instructions outlined on the University Health Services page.
  • Keep following best practices: As always, please continue to follow protocols such as physical distancing, handwashing, and wearing face coverings.
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