Covid-19 Health Alert, 7/9/20

From Dr. Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health

Your health and well-being is of the highest concern to the University.

USC Student Health began testing for COVID-19 in our community on March 16. Our testing tracks the ramp up of testing centers and lab processing facilities throughout Los Angeles County. Since that period of time, in addition to providing guidance to curb the spread, we have monitored positive cases of COVID-19 among students and essential employees in the campus environment and its relation to the broader spread in Los Angeles County.

We are writing to you at a time when Los Angeles County is seeing unparalleled growth in transmission and percentage of positive cases in our community.

In the past few days, a cluster of 15 positive cases of COVID-19 among houses located on 28th Street has been identified and is being evaluated. Patients with confirmed positive tests are in self-isolation at home or are in the process of being privately transported to isolation.

We have seen a rapid acceleration in community spread in the last three weeks, as has the rest of Los Angeles County. The current positivity rate for LA County is 11%, up from 5% about three weeks ago. Statistically, 1 out of every 7 people in Los Angeles would test positive for COVID-19 at this point in time.

Our current testing numbers at USC Student Health (excluding other patients of Keck Medicine of USC) are as follows:

Total tests completed to date: 1,432

  • Percent positive, students: 5.1%
  • Percent positive, employees: 5.2%

Most recent weekly total (June 28 – July 4):

  • Students — Positive: 12 / Negative: 188 / Pending: 0
  • Percent positive: 6.0%
  • Employees — Positive: 4 / Negative: 57 / Pending: 1
  • Percent positive: 6.5%

These figures will be updated weekly and posted to the coronavirus website: https://coronavirus.usc.edu. They do not include USC community members who are tested at outside health care facilities.

As a reminder, the following process is currently in place for notification of close contacts (within six feet, 15 minutes duration or longer) exposed to COVID-19:

Positive tests: For students/faculty/staff who test positive, Student Health works to contact individuals associated with specific locations and persons in the USC community who may have had an exposure. Student patients receive check-ins and care by USC Student Health. Faculty and staff receive check-ins by USC Student Health check-ins. Care will be through their current providers.

Notifications: Individuals who may have had exposures are contacted and given guidance on current recommendations for quarantine and options for testing. USC campus locations that are evaluated as a risk for contact exposure (by Environmental Health and Safety) receive an extensive cleaning in coordination with the facility manager. Depending on the location,  general notifications are provided to the impacted departments or buildings.

Public locations: For USC facilities that are accessible to the public, we provide a broader communication with public health guidance to the community.

With the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles, all of us are in this together to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles and the Trojan community. It is imperative that we all take essential precautions at home and on campus—wearing face coverings, frequent hand hygiene, self-isolation away from others if experiencing symptoms, using the utmost care when encountering other people—especially in high risk respiratory activities such as eating and talking. It is up to us to help slow the spread, and usual activities – including gatherings and events – need to be paused for the time being.

We expect those in our community to follow all guidance issued by USC for returning to campus – this guidance is designed to keep us safe. We all must do our part. This is especially important at this moment, as the next three weeks are critical to keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed with cases of severely ill patients.

Information for students and families weighing the risks of coming to campus are strongly advised to consider the factors as outlined in our COVID-19 informational video recording.

To notify the University about a positive case of COVID-19, call 213-740-6291. To arrange for testing due to exposure or symptoms, call USC Student Health at 213-740-9355 (WELL).

The health, safety and well-being of our community is the highest priority of the University of Southern California. Visit coronavirus.usc.edu for current information; send questions to covid19@usc.edu.

We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and stay well.