By Matthew Reagan
Five additional students at Occidental College in Eagle Rock have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to seven within the past week.
The five new cases were reported to students, faculty and staff of Oxy via email on March 25 from Sara Semal, special adviser to the Oxy president on health and safety and the college’s senior director of student wellness. The two other cases were reported to the campus community via email from Semal on March 22.
“All positive individuals are in isolation for 10 days,” Semal wrote on March 25, noting that some of them are in their off-campus homes and some are in Berkus [on-campus] housing. In addition, all those who had close contact with the students who tested positive have been notified and are also in quarantine in their homes or in Berkus, Semal wrote.
The Boulevard Sentinel asked how many students were quarantined due to close contact with an infected student, but the college declined to answer, saying the information is private.
Occidental’s campus has been closed to the public since the onset of the pandemic a year ago, with learning held remotely and limited operations for students staying on or near campus.
Around 180 students currently live on campus with an estimated 500 more living in private apartments or houses near campus, according to Jim Tranquada, director of communications and community relations.
The college conducts twice-weekly COVID-19 testing available to all students living on or near campus. Any student who wants to actually use any of the campus facilities must be tested regularly.
The seven positive cases reported in the past week are the first recorded in the spring semester thus far. In the fall semester, the college reported 10 positive cases.
Results of the college’s testing regimen for students, faculty and staff are collected and displayed on the college’s ‘testing tracker’ dashboard, though the data has not been updated since March 16.