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12/14/2020 - 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

Since Friday afternoon, Student Wellness Services (SWS) has learned that 13 members of the Caltech community have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Seven community members (four staff members, one graduate student, one postdoctoral researcher, and one faculty member) were identified through the on-campus surveillance testing program on December 10 or December 11.
    • Three of the staff members last accessed campus on December 11. All three had previously tested negative through surveillance testing on December 7.
    • One of the staff members last accessed campus on December 11. The individual had previously tested negative through surveillance testing on December 8.
    • The graduate student, who lives in off-campus housing, last accessed campus on December 11. The individual previously tested negative through surveillance testing on December 7.
    • The postdoc last accessed campus on December 11. The individual previously tested negative through surveillance testing on December 7.
    • The faculty member last accessed campus on December 10. The individual previously tested negative through surveillance testing on December 3.
  • One staff member who displayed signs of illness when they reported for surveillance testing on December 11 tested positive through a rapid antigen test at a surveillance site. The rapid test result was subsequently confirmed through a PCR test. This individual last accessed campus on December 11.
  • Three campus community members were also identified through symptomatic testing at SWS.
    • Two staff members tested positive at SWS on December 14 through rapid antigen tests. Both individuals had tested negative in surveillance testing on December 10, and last accessed campus on December 11.
    • One graduate student tested positive at SWS on December 10. This individual last accessed campus in March 2020.
  • Two staff members who were tested off campus reported positive test results through the COVID-19 Reporting Application on December 13.
    • One staff member last accessed campus on December 4, on which date the individual tested negative through the surveillance testing program.
    • One staff member last accessed campus on December 9; the individual had tested negative through the surveillance testing program on December 7.

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 85 since March 2020, 44 of whom 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.