COVID-19 Student Health Update for Students

April 3, 2020

To: UC Santa Cruz Students
From: Jaye Padgett, Vice Provost, Student Success

Subject: COVID-19 Student Health Update

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

To date, we have had one confirmed case of COVID-19 in our UC Santa Cruz community. The student lived off-campus and self-isolated at home, and hasn’t been on campus since March 16. However, we have 59 cases in Santa Cruz County, and as that number continues to grow, it’s important that we continue taking the necessary precautions to mitigate the community transmission of the disease. 

Student Health Services Open

Whether you’re living on-campus, off-campus in Santa Cruz, or at a permanent residence, you can call the Student Health Center at 831-459-2591 or you can make a telehealth or in-person appointment. Information about after-hours care for students is available online, as well as a list of all the services available for the spring quarter. You should also call your health care provider if you have COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC’s coronavirus self-checker is also a good tool to help you determine what next steps should be taken.

Using Face Coverings is Encouraged

Recent research indicates that people without symptoms may be infected and able to spread the virus to others. Therefore, guidance from the California Department of Public Health is changing regarding the use of cloth face coverings, even if you aren’t sick or displaying any symptoms. We recommend wearing a mask or something to cover your face when out in public, such as a bandana. The face coverings are not a replacement for handwashing and physical distancing (staying 6 ft. apart) but may help prevent you from unintentionally spreading the infection to others in the community.   

Spring Break Travel

If you traveled to a “hot spot” over spring break, such as the New York metro area, the CDC recommends you self-isolate at home for 14 days and avoid contact with others. You should also take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever and watch for a cough or trouble breathing (contact your medical provider or University Health Services (UHS) if you exhibit symptoms). The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all global destinations.

Be Serious About Physical Distancing

The shelter-in-place order for Santa Cruz County has been extended to May 3, and the U.S. guidelines are in place through April 30. Other states and counties have different orders and students should review and follow any directives based on where they live. These updated county and state guidelines emphasize not socializing in-person with non-household members. Here are some common misconceptions about physical distancing (also referred to as social distancing), and how these beliefs can be a real danger.

  • COVID-19 won’t hurt young people like me.” The CDC reports that 20% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States are among people aged 20-44. So yes, it can hurt young and otherwise healthy people. Physical distancing reduces that risk.

  • “I’m not sick, so I don’t need to socially distance myself.” You could easily spread the diseasewithout knowing you have itto grandparents, older neighbors, and your friends and family with health conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, etc. Physical distancing reduces this possibility. 

  • “I’m healthy, so strain on the healthcare system won’t affect me.” If medical providers and staff are overwhelmed treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, they may not be able to treat people with “ordinary” emergencies like a car accident, appendicitis, or a broken leg. Physical distancing reduces the spread of the disease and lessens the burden on the healthcare system, so you’re more likely to receive care if you have an emergency.

  • “I’m not going to let a virus stop me from partying.” You may have seen the news stories about students on Spring Break refusing to socially distance. Some of these same students are now sharing apologies. Other students sick with COVID-19 are posting warnings to their peers. Please seriously consider these warnings from other students who were not initially concerned about physical distancing.

See “How To Argue For Social Distancing If Your Friend Won't Take It Seriously” for more student-friendly tips.

Vaping and COVID-19 Risk

New research shows that vaping and smoking may increase the risk of COVID-19. Now is a great time to quit. Contact SHOP for free personal support to quit vaping or smoking.

Learn the COVID-19 Terminology

Physical distancing, quarantine, “flatten the curve.” What do all these terms mean? Check out Harvard Health’s COVID-19 glossary to find out.

Wind Down from COVID-19 Stress

We know you are feeling the stress of COVID-19. UCSC CAPS put together guided meditations, articles, and app recommendations to help you relax. Don’t forget that in most areas, you can still go outside if you stay six feet away from others. De-stress with a walk in the park, a jog, or other outdoor activity.

Have more health-related questions? Check out the campus COVID-19 webpage and the Student Health Center COVID-19 updates webpage

Stay healthy Slugs!