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12/11/2020 - 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 four members of the Caltech community have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • One asymptomatic undergraduate student was identified through the surveillance testing program on December 9. This individual, who lives off-campus in non-Caltech housing, reported to campus for surveillance testing on December 9; however, they last accessed campus buildings outside of the testing location on December 6.
  • One staff member was identified through the surveillance testing program on December 10. This individual displayed symptoms and was given a rapid antigen test that came back positive. A confirmatory PCR test is pending. The staff member, who last accessed campus on December 9, tested negative through surveillance testing on December 7. 
  • One staff member reported a positive result from community testing. This individual last accessed campus on November 24.
  • One symptomatic staff member was identified through testing at SWS. This individual last accessed campus on December 11.

All affected individuals are 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 72 since March 2020, 34 of which were reported within the last two weeks. 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.