Updates and information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Lisa Ehret, Director of Emergency Management, and Elizabeth Miller, D.O., Medical Director Student Health Services

UC Santa Cruz is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID–19) situation, and we are in regular contact with local and state health officials. We are also monitoring the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and relevant authorities closely. Clearly, the situation is changing daily, and we are prepared to take all proper precautions to protect our community and make sure everyone feels safe.

To date, there are no reported coronavirus cases at UC Santa Cruz or in Santa Cruz County. Three people at the UC Davis campus are currently in isolation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing one for COVID–19, while the other two are asymptomatic and, following CDC guidance, have not been tested.

For now, the most important thing is for you to do is stay home and seek medical care if you’re feeling sick, especially if you develop a cough or a high temperature. Students should call the Student Health Center at 831–459–2591 for instructions on self-care or to make an appointment.

How UCSC is preparing

  • Student Health Center: The Student Health Center has partnered with the Santa Cruz County Health Department to receive information on any incoming travelers who have been advised to self-quarantine. The campus Office of Emergency Services has prepared a quarantine protocol for residential students who may require self-quarantine.
  • Containment: Students with respiratory symptoms and fever will be triaged in a separate area at Student Health Services. Any testing for COVID–19 will be coordinated with local public health officials.
  • Supplies: Cold and flu prevention packets that include tissues and hand sanitizer are being distributed at the Student Health Center and across campus.
  • Outreach and preparedness: The Student Health Center and the Office of Emergency Services are preparing outreach materials and sessions for personal and business continuity preparedness. Town halls and presentation dates will be released in the coming week.
  • Quarantine space: For residential students unable to go home who have been advised by public health to self-quarantine for 14 days, the university has established quarters. Individuals under self-quarantine will be provided with a private bedroom, phone-in wellness checks from medical professionals, and meal deliveries.
  • Prevention: Campus is preparing to distribute additional hand-sanitizing stations at numerous buildings. Faculty, staff, and students are reminded to practice regular hand-washing, to cover one’s cough or sneeze with a tissue, and to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces. Those with respiratory symptoms should stay home to avoid infecting others.
  • Academic support: Campus is exploring options for delivering education via alternative platforms to allow anyone who is ill or in self-quarantine to compete coursework remotely.
  • Education abroad programs: To ensure the safety of our students and faculty, the university is closely monitoring all U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control travel advisories. Programs may be postponed, cancelled, or delivered in alternative formats.
  • Help stop the spread: Share the facts about COVID–19 prevention and symptoms. Faculty and staff, please print and post CDC bulletins in your academic and administrative buildings.

International travel restrictions

This week, the Centers for Disease Control has added a Level 3 Travel Notice for South Korea, Italy, and Iran to the existing Level 3 Travel Notice for China. For the health and well-being of the UC community, President Janet Napolitano has expanded the UC Travel Directive to temporarily avoid all non-essential, university-related travel to countries that are designated with a CDC Warning – Level 3 Travel Notice. For the latest on travel warnings and UC-related updates, visit ucal.us/coronavirus.

UCSC is following CDC guidelines for decisions about travel and programming abroad.

  • UCSC considers any country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Advisory, “Avoid Nonessential Travel,” an elevated-risk destination. University-related student travel to those countries will be prohibited, and staff and faculty must request campus approval prior to travel.
  • For any country with a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Advisory, “Practice Enhanced Precautions,” UCSC will alert students in the country and advocate for adoption of enhanced infection-control precautions. University-run programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine an appropriate course of action.

Spring break

COVID–19 is present in a number of countries. Students, faculty, and staff making spring break travel plans should visit the US State Department Travel Advisories and CDC “Coronavirus 2019 Information for Travel” websites for up-to-date travel advisories.

Planning for summer travel abroad

Although we do not know whether the Level 3 Travel Health Advisories for China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran will remain in place over the summer, we strongly suggest UCSC students, faculty, or staff planning to participate in or lead organized programs of study, work or research in those countries this summer make alternate plans. We are examining contingency plans for students who might be required to stay on campus this summer including meaningful programming opportunities and housing.

Updates on COVID–19

As of Feb. 28, there are a total of 34 positive cases in California: 24 are from repatriation flights. The other 10 confirmed cases include seven that are travel-related, one due to person-to-person exposure from a very close contact (a spouse) and two from unknown sources. These numbers align with the CDC. Approximately 200 people have been tested to date.

The health risk from novel coronavirus to the general public remains low at this time, according to state health officials. While COVID–19 has a high transmission rate, it has a low mortality rate. From the international data the state has, of those who have tested positive for COVID–19, approximately 80 percent do not exhibit symptoms that would require hospitalization. There have been no confirmed deaths related to COVID–19 in the United States. The state is assessing the situation as it evolves.

Academic impact and support

While health and safety are our primary concerns, we remain mindful of the academic challenges students face as more travel destinations and study-abroad programs are affected by the spread of the virus. Academic units are encouraged to make their best efforts to support students whose quarters may be disrupted due to coronavirus concerns so that they can complete their coursework.

We also are aware that staff, post-doctoral fellows and faculty may find their work disrupted due to travel restrictions, and we urge supervisors to be flexible and generous in establishing alternative responsibilities.

Prevention and protection

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away.
  • Put used tissues in the trash immediately.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with a fever and respiratory symptoms, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain your immune system by getting plenty of rest, sleep and a nutritious balanced diet.