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Colleges and coronavirus: October 2nd, 2020

Summarizing the latest coronavirus news from all of the local universities in San Diego County. USD reports dozens of off-campus cases, SDSU going in-person again.

SAN DIEGO — Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of students moved to college towns and on-campus housing within a very short period of time.

Thursday, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention put out a report that says this mass migration of students coincidentally came with huge spikes of the virus among young adults.

This means that as young adults moved to compact areas of living, coronavirus cases came with them.

And it’s not just the location. Students living in close quarters have led to egregious violations of local health orders.

We see this with San Diego State and the parties that are still going on throughout the College Area, even with the university reporting more than a thousand cases of the virus among students.

The CDC report stated that between August 2 and September 5, weekly cases of coronavirus among the 18-22-year-old age group jumped 55% across the country. The CDC also added that 45% of that age group are enrolled in some kind of college.

There are more than 10,000 students living in residential housing at local colleges throughout San Diego County. Each of them is taking different steps to curb the unique situation of coronavirus.

Nevertheless, students at every local university have tested positive for the virus, whether it’s just one case per week or a thousand in a month.

Let’s get into it.

University of San Diego reports dozens of off-campus cases in one week, won’t release specific information

From September 23 to the 29, University of San Diego’s Covid-19 dashboard reported 49 cases of students who tested positive for coronavirus.

All of the students live off-campus. Whether or not they're located in the greater San Diego area or localized to the USD neighborhood is unknown.

It is also not known at the moment if these students attended in-person classes or were tested at the USD facility run by the county.

When asked about these specifics, USD officials said they could not comment on them. They did however say students living on-campus who have tested positive will be quarantined and the appropriate contact tracing steps will be taken.

The County of San Diego has been contacted to comment on these 49 cases.

About six percent of courses at USD will be offered in-person. The university also accommodates living situations to allow one person to one bed and bath ratio.

Around 630 students live in residential housing at USD, much lower than the normally-expected 2,600.

Since the start of the semester, 87 campus community members have tested positive for the virus.

SDSU implements routine testing and decides to bring back some in-person classes

More than 1,100 students have tested positive for coronavirus since the beginning of the semester.

403 of the students who tested positive live on-campus. If all of these positive tests were from unique students with no duplicates, then 15% of the original 2,600 students that moved in ended up testing positive for the virus.

When parties were seen around the College Area, eventually turning into more than a dozen off-campus outbreaks of the virus, SDSU walked back on its in-person instruction plan for several weeks.

Some in-person graduate courses and labs will start again on October 12. A statement from the university said the number would still be small to maintain surveillance of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

“Approximately 2,100 students, total, will be enrolled in an in-person course. Prior to the in-person pause, 6,200 students were enrolled in an in-person course,” the statement read.

The university also said in the statement that students who are attending in-person classes will be required to take a coronavirus test every 14 days.

For the last four days, daily rates of the virus at SDSU were in the single digits. On Thursday afternoon, the university reported a total of 15 confirmed and probable cases of the virus.

These relatively low numbers come as parties are still being reported in the College Area.

Multiple people living in the neighborhood have sent videos and sound clips from parties to News 8 over the last few weeks, and have even reportedly called police on a few large gatherings.

University police usually only respond to incidents that happen on campus. According to the SDSU Police Department's crime bulletin, five calls to parties and noise complaints occurred during the month of September. All were from fraternity houses.

UC San Diego records minimal cases of the virus upon move-in, but a lot of students didn't show up

7,500 students were planning on showing up to UC San Diego this month ahead of Thursday's first day of in-person instruction but just around 5,700 actually showed up.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week, this could highlight residual safety concerns.

Despite the lower-than-expected turnout, even fewer students tested positive for coronavirus upon move-in. 

Out of the thousands who moved in, just 10 tested positive for the virus and they were all asymptomatic, and are all in isolation as of Thursday.

These positive cases are slightly lower than the few dozen that were originally expected by the university, but UCSD has more testing to do in the coming weeks

The university will be testing students living on-campus every 12-16 days, with strong recommendations for the rest of the campus community to do the same.

In addition to the ten on-campus students, three students living off-campus also tested positive along with one campus employee and seven health employees.

CSU San Marcos reports no cases for several days

Since Monday morning, CSU San Marcos has had zero active cases of coronavirus listed on their Covid-19 dashboard page.

Before this, there were only three students who had the virus, and two may have attended class while they were contagious, according to Brian Hiro, a communications specialist from the university.

Hiro sent a statement to News 8 over email elaborating on the lack of cases.

He stated in the email that the previous three students who were positive with the virus have not retested for the virus over the worry that a new test would pick up the dead Covid-19 particles, rendering a false-positive.

"We currently have zero cases of students or employees in isolation or quarantine," the statement read, in part. "While this is great news, we continue to be vigilant and remind our community of the need to follow all health and safety guidelines and measures in place."

CSUSM has reported 23 total cases of the virus among all campus community members since the start of the pandemic.

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