April 1, 2020
Times of crises define who we are. As Tritons, we must embody our principles of community and always practice empathy, compassion and kindness. Today, these principles direct us to look after not only our own wellbeing but also that of our campus and the San Diego community.
Although this pandemic is one of the most difficult challenges we’ve faced as a society, we need to remember that viruses are not new. We have sufficient knowledge to understand how they are transmitted, how they reproduce and how they change. In time, we will also gain a better understanding of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Science will prevail. We simply need as much time and as many resources as possible to create a solution as efficiently as possible.
The world needs your help to “buy more time” to allow this process to happen. How do you do this? Stop the transmission. Educate yourself. Internalize your role within your community. Closely follow health guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn all you can about the virus and the disease it causes in order to be prepared to act if you develop symptoms. Understand that you are an individual within a larger ecosystem. Without it, you cannot be an individual, and without the collection of individuals, the ecosystem cannot exist.
STOP THE TRANSMISSION
Today, our ecosystem, our society needs our help. It needs our thoughtful individual action and it needs it right now. Everyone—campus residents and those at remote locations—needs to commit to more aggressive physical distancing measures, not just for your own health and safety, but also for the health and safety of your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors and fellow community residents.
Stay home or in your campus residence. Period. Do not engage in contact sports or activities that require sharing equipment or close contact. Limit personal interactions to phone or online formats. If you have to leave your residence for essential activities—medical appointments, pharmacy visits, or quick trips to buy groceries and necessary supplies—please maintain at least six feet between you and anyone else you may see while you are out.
When you return to your residence, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and wipe down items purchased on your visit. Clean surfaces such as countertops, desks, and vanities regularly with household cleaner. Be sure also to clean highly touched surfaces such as phones, laptops, and other appliances. Laptops, keyboards, phones and other objects should not be shared with others unless they are thoroughly cleaned between users.
EDUCATE YOURSELF: SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19
While taking careful steps to stop the spread of the virus, it is important to continually learn about it. As our collective knowledge grows, we will identify other individual actions we can take to help.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and pneumonia. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a novel coronavirus, identified as SARS-CoV-2. Not everyone who tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 develops COVID-19. Most people infected with SARS-CoV-2 have mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms. But some people—usually those with other medical complications—may develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia. Using available preliminary data, the World Health Organization estimates the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases of COVID-19 is approximately two weeks and is three to six weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.
COVID-19 symptoms including fever, new cough, shortness of breath, and/or a persistent scratchy throat appear an average of five to six days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2, but may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC. If you are a student with these symptoms, contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3302 for instructions on how to proceed. Faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider and/or primary care physician for further instructions.
Visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/ to stay up to date on our growing knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
CAMPUS UPDATE: CARING FOR OUR SICK
Our society also needs our kindness right now. It needs all of us to care about those who are sick and those whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
UC San Diego’s first priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors.
There are three students on campus who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. UC San Diego medical staff are currently contacting others who may have been in contact with these three students to determine next steps. In most but not all cases, testing and self-isolation are advised. Students living on campus who have been in contact with anyone (student or otherwise) who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or has developed COVID-19 should contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.
To maintain confidentiality, and to be compliant with federal law (see Notice of Privacy Practices at https://wellness.ucsd.edu/studenthealth/about/HIPAA/Pages/default.aspx), we are not identifying isolated students nor their locations. Please keep in mind that just because someone is in self-isolation does not mean they have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or are ill with COVID-19.
At some point in our lives, we all experience illness. It’s not a crime to be sick. We expect and hope all Tritons will practice empathy towards those in isolation awaiting test results, those who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 and those who have developed COVID-19.
HELP FOR OUR COMMUNITY
UC San Diego is also a public institution. As the region’s only academic medical center, we have a responsibility to care for members of our community especially in times of great need.
UC San Diego has contracted with the County of San Diego to provide 350 rooms in a new campus housing building that is not currently occupied by students. If needed, one Nuevo East building will be used by the county as a creative medical treatment center that will accept “step-down” and low-level cases of COVID-19 to make room for more serious cases at area hospitals. Step-down cases are those who have recovered and passed the most severe stages of COVID-19. The center will also house doctors and nurses who will be responsible for patients receiving care at the facility. We are proud to be a community partner by providing a building they can use and manage for their purposes.
The County has leased the entire building; UC San Diego will not be assigning any students to housing in that building for the duration of the lease. Campus residents who are in self-isolation awaiting test results or who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 will be housed in a separate building.
Because all spring quarter classes and student experiences are being offered remotely, students who had been living on campus were offered refunds for housing if they moved out by March 31. This has yielded more than enough space on campus to ensure proper social distancing for those students remaining.
THE ROAD AHEAD
From the birth of our experimental campus, UC San Diego faculty, researchers, staff and students made a commitment to collaborate with knowledge builders inside and outside the institution to look deeper at the world around us in order to solve society’s most pressing issues. This poignant moment in history provides a true test of that commitment. We are meeting the challenge. We are facing this pandemic together, in collaboration, united for a common purpose. We are working with the world’s top minds to demystify this new virus and the disease it causes. We are doing our part to stop the spread of the virus. We are caring for our sick and providing needed resources to our community.
I am proud of our response and prouder still of our performance under pressure. I offer special thanks to our staff, faculty and clinicians who have been instrumental in keeping the campus and our health system operational during this crisis. I also thank our residence life staff, custodial staff, dining hall staff, student health staff, emergency operations staff, executive policy group, Chancellor’s Cabinet, divisional deans and college provosts, faculty, students, and of course everyone in our medical centers. Your commitment and dedication to UC San Diego and each other are exemplary.
The road ahead requires renewed commitment to community. This crisis will have a lasting, long-term effect for ourselves, our families, our friends and colleagues and countless people we do not know. I am grateful for everyone’s continued cooperation. Stay the course, and we will see an end to this crisis in due time. Thank you.