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12/9/2020 - New COVID-19 cases reported to Caltech

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

In the past 24 hours, Student Wellness Services (SWS) has learned that five members of the Caltech community have tested positive for COVID-19 through the campus surveillance testing program:

  • Two employees who were last on campus on December 7;
  • Two employees who were last on campus on December 8; and
  • A graduate student who was last on campus on December 7.

All five individuals, who are now in isolation, tested negative through SWS surveillance testing on December 3; they subsequently tested positive through SWS surveillance testing on December 7. Results from Monday's test became available today.

Members of the Caltech community currently reporting to campus must participate in the surveillance testing program; those who access campus two or more times per week must join either a Mon/Thurs or Tues/Fri testing cohort. 

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 59 since March 2020. With the November 30 launch of a pilot on-campus surveillance testing program, we expected to see an increase in cases as a result of an increase in detection, which has indeed occurred. However, we are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in our community that reflects the surge in positive cases being seen across the county, state, and nation. 

The safety and well-being of Caltech's students, staff, and faculty is our top priority. 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. 

SWS consults with PPHD about questions of community transmission related to campus cases; to date, none of the known cases in the Caltech community appear to be epidemiologically linked. Individual health information is confidential and we ask all members of the community to be respectful of those privacy rights.

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;
  • Wear a face covering; 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 that is updated by 2 p.m. PT each weekday. Please note that JPL tracks COVID-19 cases separately and is not included in these data.