Three UC Davis students in isolation due to concerns of coronavirus infection, CDC testing one student

Three UC Davis students in isolation due to concerns of coronavirus infection, CDC testing one student

Photo Credits: Madeleine Payne / Aggie. A media press conference was held at Mrak Hall to discuss the implications of the coronavirus now that three UC Davis students have been isolated over concerns of infection.

News of isolated students comes after news breaks of UC Davis Medical Center patient tests positive for coronavirus

Three UC Davis students who were roommates in Kearney Hall are in isolation for potentially being exposed to the coronavirus. The isolation comes after a patient being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this week, which is the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. contracted without a known source of exposure. 

There is no indication that the three students who are currently in isolation at UC Davis have been infected via community spread — a distinct difference from the coronavirus case at the UC Davis Medical Center. The students were alleged to have either recently traveled to a high-risk country or been in contact with someone with a similar risk.

One student who is showing flu-like symptoms is undergoing isolation at home, and the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) is testing them for COVID-19. The other two were contacted by UC Davis staff and placed in isolation last night, though they have no symptoms.

Chancellor Gary May explained the actions taken by the university to protect students in a statement sent to UC Davis students via email. 

“To date, no one in Yolo County or on the UC Davis main campus has tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement read. “We do want you to know, however, that out of an abundance of caution, three members of the campus community who had been living in Kearney Hall are currently in isolation.”

In a media press conference at Mrak Hall on Thursday afternoon, representatives from UC Davis and Yolo County discussed the effects this may have on the campus and the city. 

“One student is offsite — he’s been off site since the 25th,” said Michael Sheehan, the associate vice chancellor for Housing and Dining Services. “The two remaining students we connected with last night, and we’ve offered them another opportunity on campus where they can be isolated, and we moved them last night.”

Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman said these precautionary measures are similar to those taken throughout the country.

“Since Feb. 3, the federal government has been restricting and screening folks that have entered the United States from mainland China,” Chapman said. “All those travelers from China are restricted, isolated or what we call quarantined. The three individuals we’re looking at here at [the] UC Davis campus, we’re doing the same thing with them [that is being done] with travelers from all over the country.”

The two students who are not showing symptoms will remain in isolation for several days, according to Chapman. 

“The federal guidelines are a 14-day isolation or quarantine, from the day of exposure,” Chapman said. “If at any time during those fourteen days the person becomes symptomatic, like a runny nose, a cough, a fever, […] they would be considered for testing for the coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, UC Davis is taking extra precautionary measures to protect students from potentially being infected. Dr. Cindy Schorzman, the medical director of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), elaborated on measures taken at SHCS, according to CDC guidelines. 

“We are asking every student who comes in for an appointment at the Student Health and Wellness Center about their recent travel history, as well as about any possible contacts with people who are known to be sick with COVID-19,” Schorzman said. 

As for the residence halls, “daily disinfection practices are being implemented within all Student Housing and Dining Services properties,” according to May.

Chapman further explained that the virus is not being transmitted through community spread and, thus, does not pose a large threat to the Davis community. 

“In Yolo County, in the city of Davis, on the UC Davis campus, there is no evidence for the spread of the coronavirus, and there is no evidence of the transmission of the virus,” Chapman said.

The news of the isolations comes one day after news broke that a patient being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center tested positive for coronavirus. UC Davis published an email that David Lubarsky, the vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and CEO of UC Davis Health, and Brad Simmons, the interim CEO and chief operating officer for UC Davis Medical Center, sent to UC Davis Health employees about the confirmed case of coronavirus. 

“This patient was transferred to us from another Northern California hospital,” the email read. “Since the patient arrived with a suspected viral infection, our care teams have been taking the proper infection prevention (contact droplet) precautions during the patient’s stay.”

The patient was not tested for coronavirus until Feb. 23, several days after being admitted, though the medical center requested testing by the CDC.

“This is not the first COVID-19 patient we have treated, and because of the precautions we have had in place since this patient’s arrival, we believe there has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center,” the email read. 

As an additional measure, several employees were asked to stay home to ensure their safety.

“Out of an abundance of caution, in order to assure the health and safety of our employees, we are asking a small number of employees to stay home and monitor their temperature,” the email read. “We are handling this in the same way we manage other diseases that require airborne precautions and monitoring.”

Written by: Madeleine Payne — city@theaggie.org