Health officials connect COVID-19 case surge at USC to Thanksgiving gatherings

Health officials at the University of Southern California have connected an outbreak of new COVID-19 cases at the university to Thanksgiving gatherings. In addition, testing will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff starting in January.

"What we’re seeing at USC is unfortunately what we’re seeing in most of LA County and the surrounding areas. We have faculty, staff and students who are testing with us and testing positive. Many of those individuals may have traveled or gathered over the Thanksgiving holiday. So, we believe that this was related to that period of time," said USC Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman. 


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Van Orman also suggested that those within the USC community should not travel for the upcoming winter holidays. 

"I would say to my family or anyone else, don’t travel this holiday, don’t gather with individuals outside of your household. We know the vaccine is coming but there are very high rates in our community. We know that many of our community members may leave as the campus slows down, so we’re also asking them when they return…when they do leave the state, to abide by the 14-day quarantine that’s recommended in California," she added.

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USC also announced Tuesday they have expanded its COVID-19 testing capacity at the campus to meet its demand for mandatory testing. 

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"We’ve been testing our faculty, staff and students at USC all fall and recommending it once a week. Beginning in January, we’re actually going to require it once a week for our faculty, staff, professional graduate students and twice a week for our undergraduates. Our capacity is significantly increasing, so we’re hopeful that expanding testing will continue to keep our communities safe, particularly if rates are high when individuals return in January," Dr. Van Orman said.  

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