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1/21/2021 - New COVID-19 cases reported to Caltech

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*UPDATED 1/21/21 at 3:58 p.m.: An SWS investigation has found that there does not appear to be any connection between the three cases in Caltech housing reported this week.

From: Jennifer Howes, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Wellness
Re: New COVID-19 case reported to Caltech

In the past 24 hours, Student Wellness Services (SWS) learned that four members of the Caltech community have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Two individuals were identified through the Institute's surveillance testing efforts:

  • A graduate student who lives in Caltech housing tested positive on January 19, and last accessed campus on January 20. SWS is investigating whether there is any connection between this case and either of the other two positive cases reported in Caltech housing this week.*
  • A staff member who works at an off-site Caltech facility tested positive on January 19, and last accessed the facility on January 15. 

One staff member was identified through symptomatic testing at SWS:

  • The staff member tested positive on January 20, and last accessed campus on November 13, 2020. 

One staff member reported a positive test result through community testing via the COVID-19 Reporting Application:

  • The staff member tested positive on January 18, and last accessed campus on March 1, 2020. 

Please note that results from surveillance tests given to asymptomatic individuals take up to 48 hours to process. Individuals who participate in surveillance testing have been instructed to continue with their normally scheduled activities and responsibilities as they await test results. Once notified of a positive test result, they are then instructed to isolate as contact tracing begins.

All affected individuals are now isolating. In collaboration with the Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD), SWS will identify and notify anyone in the campus community who may have had close contact with any of these individuals. Anyone found to be at risk of exposure will be provided specific instructions for quarantining and isolation.

This brings the total number of reported COVID-19 cases among members of the Caltech campus community and off-campus facilities to 174 since March 2020. Caltech has launched an updated surveillance testing program in partnership with UCLA Swabseq to regularly screen all individuals reporting to campus or accessing campus facilities for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Students, faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and staff members who report to campus are required to participate; on-campus affiliates and contractors are encouraged to participate.

It is imperative that all members of our community remain diligent in adhering to all preventative measures and county and city health orders that have been implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

The safety and well-being of Caltech's students, staff, and faculty is our top priority. All members of the Caltech community are asked to:

  • Notify SWS if you have been exposed to anyone with a positive test for COVID-19; 
  • Stay home if you are ill or have a fever; 
  • Use the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting application on the days you are scheduled to be on site; 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; 
  • Wear a face covering (an independent faculty group has explored the effectiveness of several dozen commercially available masks – access.caltech credentials required); and  
  • Maintain a minimum of six feet of physical distance from others on campus. 

More information about Caltech's response to the pandemic can be found on the Caltech Together coronavirus website. Reports of illness, testing metrics, and confirmed case counts can be found on a dedicated dashboard. Please note that JPL tracks COVID-19 cases separately and is not included in these data.