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San Diego State COVID-19 cases top 1,000 as UCSD students move in

The case mile marker at SDSU came as University of California-San Diego students begin virtual and in-person classes this week.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,072 since Aug. 24, the first day of instruction for the fall semester.

The new totals reported by Student Health Services reflect numbers as of 6 p.m. Saturday.

Nearly all of the cases are students; 666 are students who live off-campus, 385 are students who live on-campus, 13 are classified as “visitors,” or people who had exposure to someone affiliated with the school, and eight are faculty or staff.

The number of confirmed cases was 1,030, with 42 probable cases.

The case mile marker came as University of California-San Diego students begin virtual and in-person classes this week. The university delayed the start of the fall semester to review best practices and adjust it's Ready to Learn strategy.

Approximately 7,500 undergraduate students and 4,800 graduate students will live on campus - a 50% reduction in density. The university spread out arrivals over 10 days to encourage distancing. UC San Diego expects only 12% of classes will have in-person instruction. Classroom capacity will be capped at 25% with a maximum of 50 students.  

Students who live on campus will be regularly tested for COVID-19. So far nine have tested positive this semester, according to the school's online dashboard. The university has spent the past few weeks drilling its response to a potential outbreak.

“When a specific case comes up we actually work with a university, its student health services and their planners, who are involved with their reopening plans, to immediately work to institute the public health precautions of isolation, quarantine and contact tracing,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., a deputy public health officer with the County of San Diego.

Earlier this month, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors tried to convince state health officials to exclude college students from the county’s case rate but were denied. Cases at SDSU helped push the county’s case rate above Tier 2 limits. As the rate of new cases slowed, San Diego narrowly avoided having further restrictions imposed by the state.

Some supervisors called out college students and young adults for flouting safety guidelines. Last week, the median age of coronavirus cases in the county decreased to 35 years old after remaining at 36 years old for most of the summer.

This particular age group has been involved with these types of social activities really across the county. Whether it's in San Diego State for this specific outbreak or previous episodes during the summer or in other parts of the county,” said McDonald. Rather than zeroing in on a specific age group, I think we should be talking about the behavior and the behavior is not to have house parties and social gatherings that really allow the virus to spread.” 

SDSU's information is based on cases reported to Student Health Services by an individual or by a public health official. As more private labs are administering tests, there is a possibility that not all cases are being reported to Student Health Services.

For privacy reasons, SDSU does not report names, affiliations or health conditions of students, faculty or staff who test positive for COVID-19 unless a public health agency advises that there is a health and public safety benefit to reporting such details.