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

Colleges and coronavirus: September 25, 2020

Summarizing the growing outbreaks of coronavirus throughout San Diego's colleges. SDSU's cases hit faculty, thousands of students move to UCSD

SAN DIEGO — It's official -- the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this week more young adults have tested positive for the coronavirus than any other age group.

The results seem shocking for a virus that was once thought of as the "Boomer Remover," a phrase coined over COVID-19's high mortality rate for older people, back at the beginning of the pandemic's stronghold in the states.

Coincidentally, the trend of young adults outpacing the number of positive tests comes as droves of students are returning to college campuses nationwide.

We've seen entire schools shut down because administrations have failed to control the number of outbreaks infiltrating their on-campus populations.

Here in California, Chico State shuttered its physical doors and living arrangements after a few dozen cases were reported. Its San Diego counterpart, San Diego State, is trying to weather out the virus without forcing students to go home.

It's actually been an entire month since the semester at SDSU started as of Thursday. Since then the university has reported more than 950 cases of coronavirus, leading to the hospitalization of one.

It's not just SDSU either, there are growing numbers of cases of the virus at colleges all around San Diego County.

All these cases at different San Diego colleges also get reported in San Diego County's coronavirus count.

Throughout this week, thousands of students moved into UC San Diego residential housing, students living on-campus at USD are testing positive for the virus and SDSU's employees are now starting to get sick.

Let's get into it.

UC San Diego brings thousands of students to residential housing and some of them are already sick

UC San Diego is bringing in nearly three times as many students than SDSU did last month.

Can they avoid the outbreaks and partying that have taken center stage at the local Cal State?

UCSD is trying to do things differently. Moving students to its campus this late in the year does give the school a chance to learn from the mistakes of others.

For one, the UC administered mandatory testing. It's not just upon move-in either as these students will be tested every two weeks, according to UCSD.

New technology debuted on Thursday, with the goal of informing students if they were exposed to others who tested positive for coronavirus.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, 3,500 participants volunteered for this ambitious project.

If it's successful, California may adopt a similar messaging system.

Christine E. Clark, assistant director for university communications and school for global policy and strategy, said that two students out of approximately 2,400 students who moved in this week tested positive for coronavirus.

The students who tested positive moved in between Sept. 19 and 22.

"The process has been going smoothly," Clark stated in an email. "We expected to see cases, but it's been less than what we expected."

Clark confirmed with News 8 that the two individuals are in isolated housing.

At a county press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Eric McDonald, the county's director of epidemiology, said there were no outbreaks of the virus at UCSD.

UCSD reports its coronavirus cases by the week, reporting testing data and some detail about each case.

Its most recent data on the COVID-19 dashboard is from the week between Sept. 13 and 19.

Twenty-eight people tested positive. Seven were students, six were employees and 15 were health employees.

The average rate of testing for the campus population has remained low. Less than one percent in their weekly reports.

At the same press conference on Wednesday, Dr. McDonald also confirmed that all the partying that was witnessed at San Diego State was one of the primary forces in spreading the virus to nearly a thousand students.

SDSU nears 1,000 cases and now employees are starting to get sick

San Diego State officials expected the university's total case count to reach 1,000 "sometime this upcoming week," according to a campuswide email after mandatory testing was implemented. 

Although it hasn't quite hit the milestone yet, numerous outbreaks still run rampant throughout the College Area as well as parties. 

Despite university pleas to students to stay indoors and avoid parties, News 8 received numerous emails of concerned College Area residents 

Some of them were reported as recently as Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Sixty-two percent of the current cases are from students living off-campus. The rest are living on-campus in residential housing.

This means 13% of all students living on-campus at SDSU tested positive for the virus.

Before the situation got bad, SDSU had about 7% of its normal amount of courses in-person. That's down to 1% now but the current restriction on in-person classes will be reviewed at the start of October.

Meantime, six employees at SDSU tested positive just in the last week.

According to SDSU, three of those employees worked at the SDSU Research Foundation, technically an off-campus building that's about a five-minute walk from Hepner Hall.

SDSU officials have been contacted about the remaining three who's conditions and role in campus operations are unknown. This article will be updated as more information comes in.

As of Sept. 24, there were 953 confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus throughout the SDSU community.

University of San Diego logs several on-campus cases after welcoming 630 students back

On Sept. 18, 630 students moved to residential housing at University of San Diego.

Since that weekend, 13 students have tested positive for the virus, according to the university's COVID-19 testing dashboard.

Four of those students live on-campus.

We know that students who live on-campus at USD live in single-room, single-bathroom units.

When reached out to comment by News 8, media relations from the university said they could not disclose any further information about the students who tested positive.

"What we can confirm is that any students who need to be isolated or quarantined on campus will be moved to assigned units where university staff will be in constant contact," and email from USD read in part.

Any reported cases from USD will also be added to the total county case count, according to County officials.

CSU San Marcos students may have been contagious while attending class

CSU San Marcos may only have 250 students living on-campus, but their case count is still updated with active cases.

There are currently three active cases of coronavirus among students at the north county CSU, one living on-campus and two living nearby.

According to Brian Hiro, communications specialist at CSUSM, everyone who was in contact with the three positive cases has been contacted for potential exposure.

Hiro said in an email that two of the students living off-campus did attend in-person classes during the time they were potentially contagious.

These classes had less than 10 people in attendance and everyone wore masks and socially distanced, according to Hiro, who said the risk of contagion is considered low.

According to the email, one student is currently living under quarantine in on-campus housing. Hiro said in the email that it was the roommate of the student living on-campus who tested positive.

He said that even though students at CSUSM get their own bedroom and bathroom, the roommate was moved "out of an abundance of caution" for a two-week quarantine.

Since the start of the pandemic, 21 members of the CSUSM community have tested positive for coronavirus.

County officials have confirmed that all cases reported at campus testing facilities at any San Diego college will be added to the countywide coronavirus total.