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COVID-19 Winter Updates

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Following the Thanksgiving recess, UCI continued sequestration for all students living on campus. The sequestration was first taken into effect on Nov. 24, following the increase of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and was announced that it would be in effect until the end of the fall quarter. 

Even with the sequestration in effect, there was an increase of on-campus students and staff testing positive for COVID-19.

UCI expanded the coronavirus testing capacity for students who have been living off-campus to ensure safer measures. On Dec. 7, ZotPasses were implemented in addition to the weekly asymptomatic testing. Students were required to show their green “virus-clear” passes to gain weekday breakfast and lunch access to Brandywine and the Anteatery. 

On Dec. 8, the COVID-19 winter break protocols were released. It was also revealed that traveling during Thanksgiving was the main cause of the uptick of cases on campus. Students were warned that they would be unable to leave campus if they tested positive for the virus anytime following Dec. 9. 

On-campus students leaving campus during break were required to register their travel plans for the break and are not allowed to return until the date identified on a UCI-provided form. Though classes for the winter quarter officially began on Jan. 4, the protocols highly encourage students living on-campus who left for winter break to return to campus on or after Saturday, Jan. 16. 

All winter quarter courses will be held remotely, giving students adequate time to quarantine at home for a period of 14 days. Most classes will be remote, excluding a few graduate courses if conditions improve. 

Once arriving on campus, students will be required to follow the same protocols as in the fall. Students must sequester for at least seven days, take a COVID-19 test 48 hours of returning to campus and take another test in seven days as a part of the weekly asymptomatic testing. As stated on the site, “two negative tests and being symptom-free will allow for the resumption of permissible activities.”

Students who need to return to campus prior to Jan. 16 must follow the same guidelines of getting two negative COVID-19 tests — one within 48 hours and the second within one week. Regardless of the results, students will be required to sequester for a period of 14 days with the exceptions of meals, work and essential healthcare services.

On Dec. 10, California launched CA Notify (available on both iOS and Android), an antivirus app, that sends an anonymous alert to individuals if they were in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. CA Notify is an additional protective feature for you and the community, ensuring that people are protected and safe.

The first vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech were shipped and delivered to UCI Medical Center early Wednesday morning, Dec. 16. The vaccine has been administered the past few days, with UCI Health healthcare workers given priority to the first 2,000 vaccines. 

It is unclear when the first batch of Moderna’s vaccines will arrive and whether UCI will receive enough vaccines to expand inoculations to the general campus community. 

The schedule for winter break coronavirus testing has been released as well. COVID-19 testing will be limited to two locations — the Division of Continuing Education and Plaza Verde — and will take place from Dec. 21 to Dec. 22, Dec. 28 to Dec. 29 and possibly Jan. 2 to Jan. 3. The testing centers will be closed from Dec. 23 to 27, Dec. 30 to Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 due to the holiday observances. 

The UCI Forward Hub Daily Campus Updates will go on hiatus as well until Jan. 4. However, the COVID-19 Dashboard will still be available to view and will provide daily snapshots of the number of on-campus cases. Since the break, the number of cases has expanded to 118 new on-campus cases which can be viewed on the UCI Forward dashboard.The COVID-19 Chatline is also available throughout the business week from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For those with questions regarding COVID-19 during the weekend, the chatline is available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Jennifer Cheong is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at jacheong@uci.edu