Update on COVID-19 (coronavirus)

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

UC Santa Cruz leaders continue to closely monitor the dynamic COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation and are in regular communication with local and state health officials. Your health and wellbeing are our number one priority and we are doing all we can to support a safe and healthy environment for everyone in our campus community. This update provides information on preparedness activities and recent changes to travel restrictions, which are particularly important in consideration of the upcoming spring break. This information, along with additional guidance and resources, can be found on the UC Santa Cruz COVID-19 (coronavirus) web page.

Preparedness and Prevention

To date, no one in Santa Cruz County or at UC Santa Cruz has tested positive for COVID-19. 

I do want the campus to be aware that earlier this week we learned that two staff members with the Genomics Institute were at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) offices in Redwood City on February 27 and may have been exposed to COVID-19 through a contract worker on the Redwood City CZI site that day. That contract worker has now tested positive for COVID-19, but analysis has determined that neither of the two Genomics Institute staff are among the seven individuals who had close enough contact with the infected contract worker for direct transmission of the virus.

Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, both UCSC employees have self-quarantined and are pursuing options for testing. We continue to believe that there is minimal risk to our employees.

Separately, one student receiving medical care off campus was tested on March 4 for COVID-19 after experiencing respiratory symptoms. That test came back negative on March 5. Out of an abundance of caution, UC Santa Cruz moved the student’s two roommates into quarantine housing after learning about the testing. With the negative test result, those two students have returned to their on-campus residence.

For now, the most important thing for you to do is stay home, rest and avoid contact with others if you are not feeling well. You should call your medical provider if you develop a cough, difficulty breathing, or a fever. Anyone with these symptoms AND recent travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or Japan should call their healthcare provider in advance and make arrangements to be evaluated. Students should call the Student Health Center at 831-459-2591 for instructions on self-care or to make an appointment. Please visit the Student Health Center website for general health information.

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.

Travel Restrictions and Registration

President Napolitano issued a letter on March 5 further restricting international travel in accordance with recent CDC guidance. This directive expands the existing travel restriction for CDC Level 3 countries (China, South Korea, Italy, Iran) to include CDC Level 2 countries (Japan). University travel between these countries and UC Santa Cruz is prohibited without prior approval from campus Risk Services.

Any travelers from a CDC Level 3 country, whether traveling for university or personal reasons, must self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. The UC Santa Cruz Office of Emergency Services will assist with quarantine logistics for any on-campus residents and serve as a point of contact for those quarantining off campus. 

All international university travel must be registered in one of two ways:

  • Use the Connexxus system to make reservations. This will automatically add your travel to the travel registry.

  • If you do not use Connexxus for reservations, register your travel through the UC Away system

If you are planning to travel for spring break, check the CDC and State Department travel advisories prior to departure. If you travel to a CDC Level 3 country, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Before returning to campus, undergraduate residential students who have recently traveled to these regions should contact their college’s senior director in order to identify an appropriate quarantine facility. Because of the restrictions on returning to the US, and the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, international travel is not advised.

Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Update

Santa Cruz County Health Services, in coordination with the California Department of Public Health, is the lead agency for ensuring an effective communitywide response. The campus will follow guidance from Santa Cruz County and the California Department of Public Health with respect to cancellation of group events or classes. At this time, given the lack of community spread of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County, UC Santa Cruz is not planning to cancel classes or suspend or modify operations. 

In an effort to secure more support and resources in managing any potential coronavirus cases, the county Health Services Agency declared a local health emergency.

According to the county, the declaration will empower it to:

  • More effectively respond to COVID-19,

  • Seek and utilize mutual aid,

  • Potentially obtain reimbursement, and

  • Ensure that the county’s health professionals and other local stakeholders have all the necessary tools and powers at their disposal.

Support Resources

This continues to be a rapidly changing situation. No doubt, some of you may be feeling anxious and concerned. Students in need of support can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services. For faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program can provide personal counseling and support.

We are closely following the guidance of our state and nation's top health leaders to ensure our response will support the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. 

For more information about the coronavirus in general, how campus officials are monitoring the situation, tips for prevention and protection, and other public resources, visit campus’ new COVID-19 webpage.