In an update Tuesday, UC Berkeley reported an increase in positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff, believed to be related to Thanksgiving gatherings.
Since Thanksgiving, there have been 50 new positive cases, and this is more than the 10 cases from the week before Thanksgiving, according to the update. The report follows an update from Dec. 3 on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, being found in wastewater at University Village and Clark Kerr Campus, two campus-owned housing units.
The Tuesday update, however, noted that the majority of positive COVID-19 cases are continuing to occur among individuals living outside of campus-owned housing units. The update added that University Health Services, or UHS, learned of the possible correlation between positive cases and Thanksgiving gatherings through contact tracing efforts.
About half the positive cases are linked to travel and the spread of COVID-19 in the broader community. Eight of the 50 cases were among campus staff, and staff who are on campus were reminded to continue practicing COVID-19 health guidelines, including physical distancing, according to the update.
UHS also saw the spread of cases to be possibly tied to staff taking lunch breaks together. The update noted that taking off a mask to eat poses some risk and recommended not sharing utensils or food items, using hand hygiene before and after eating and meeting outside if the weather permits instead of meeting in break rooms.
It is likely that positive cases linked to Thanksgiving gatherings will continue to emerge this week, according to the update. The uptick in cases was identified earlier this month, and positive COVID-19 cases in the campus community continue to remain under 2%.
“Still, the virus is currently spreading exponentially locally and nationwide: it is critical that we all remain vigilant,” the update states.