Regional stay-at-home order goes into effect for Santa Cruz County, update on COVID-19 vaccine policy, vaccine distribution planning

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services

I want to share updates on a new stay-at-home order that is going into effect for Santa Cruz County at 11:59 p.m. tonight, and UC’s developing plans around a vaccine policy and distribution.

Additionally, I want to encourage everyone in our Slug community to remain vigilant as we see COVID-19 cases rising in the county and on campus. Our campus dashboard provides a regularly updated status on COVID-19 at UCSC.

Stay-at-home order in effect for Santa Cruz County 

As shared in the Dec. 4 campus update, Gov. Gavin Newsom has a new regional stay-at-home order framework that divides the state into five regions. When ICU bed capacity drops below 15 percent, the entire region enters into a stay-at-home order. On Wednesday, the Bay Area region, which includes Santa Cruz County, dropped below 15 percent ICU bed availability. As a result, the County of Santa Cruz has issued a stay-at-home order that takes effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

The stay-at-home order “requires individuals to stay home unless traveling for essential purposes, prohibits leisure travel and gatherings outside one’s immediate household, limits community and commercial activities, and will be in place a minimum of three weeks.” 

State guidelines do allow individuals to “conduct activities associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure.” Higher education institutions are included in the critical infrastructure sector, though we must still abide by the higher education sector guidelines governing our operations. As the campus is already operating under these restrictions, we do not anticipate major shifts in our operations resulting from the new stay-at-home order. We continue to ask that all employees who are able to work remotely plan to do so until at least June.

COVID-19 vaccine policy, distribution

This week the UC Office of the President (UCOP) issued a new Interim COVID-19 Vaccine Policy. The purpose of this policy is to “protect the health and safety of the University’s patients and the faculty, staff, students, and others who work or train in the University’s healthcare locations – including all of the university’s academic medical centers, student health and counseling centers, and other facilities and clinics." Employees in these settings are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Rather, those working in these settings will participate in education about the vaccines and then either consent to the vaccine or affirmatively opt out of it. Additional information on distribution protocols and priorities, as well as information for those working in non-health care settings will be forthcoming.

Remaining vigilant

In recent weeks, the number of campus COVID-19 cases has increased. You can track case counts using our online dashboard

We must remain vigilant in reducing the spread of the virus. Please continue to:

  • Complete your daily symptom check if you are accessing a UCSC site

  • Wear a face covering 

  • Abide by posted physical distancing guidelines  

  • Participate in the asymptomatic testing program that has been made available for members of our campus community (Note: the last day for asymptomatic testing will be Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 and then the program will be closed for the winter break campus closure period until January 4, 2021. There are several specific cohort groups that will be required to participate in testing during the campus closure period and individuals in these groups will be noticed individually and provided with date, location and times to test).

  • Do not come to work if you are feeling ill

  • Regularly wash your hands 

  • Abide by the stay-at-home order restrictions

In addition, consider signing up for CA Notify, which is the state notification system that alerts you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Additional guidance is being provided to our students living on-campus for the winter break closure or planning to move to campus for winter quarter.

Every single one of us has a role to play in supporting the health of our Slug community. Though the impacts of not spending time with loved ones or engaging in activities or travel that bring us joy and wellness are extremely challenging for everyone, I am grateful for the patience, compassion and vigilance that every Slug has shown in these challenging times. 

Together, we are Slug Strong.