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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Point Loma Nazarene University experiencing recent jump in COVID-19 cases among students

More students are ordered to shelter-in-place after 12 coronavirus cases were reported this week.

Some students are sheltering-in-place after 12 students at Point Loma Nazarene University tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-October.

The small Christian university opened in mid-August for virtual learning, with only a fraction living on campus. Nevertheless, more students just tested positive for COVID-9 and as a result, more students were ordered to shelter-in-place.

While Point Loma Nazarene University is virtual in instruction this fall, a few hundred students have been living on campus.

As of Wednesday, a dozen new COVID cases were reported.  An infectious disease expert said he is not surprised.

"Universities with dormitories and classrooms - it's really easy to see why there are super spreader events there. And in order to protect people, you have to be so careful. It's really difficult," said Yaneer Bar-Yam, professor and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute.

According to the university's dashboard, as of Wednesday, the school is tracking 19 active cases with 14 on-campus, five off-campus. 

Campus officials said they have identified the clusters of cases in residence halls with three positive cases in Klassen Hall, four positive cases in Hendricks Hall, and three positive cases in Young Hall, followed by two unrelated cases in Nease Hall.

"Even if without doing social events, just the nature of living in a dorm, we know the disease transmits easily. If someone walks by a place they can leave viral particles that stay in the air for hours. It's very hard to prevent transmission in a university," said Bar-Yam.

Campus officials also said 50 other students were identified as ''close contacts" or people who were within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.

Sixty-six total students were in isolation or quarantine as of Wednesday.

The county said it is going to help with testing. It will be deploying a surge testing to the campus Thursday to test the remainder of students that need to be tested. No employees have tested positive for the virus.