UC Berkeley students advocate for tighter regulations as COVID-19 cases surge

Photo of Berkeley residence halls
Josh Kahen/File
According to University Health Services spokesperson Tami Cate, COVID-19 testing results typically take two to three days. However, according to campus junior Elliot Clark, the testing time of UHS is generally longer than the time of other facilities.

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Amid surging COVID-19 cases and increases in wait time for test results, students are looking to UC Berkeley to implement tighter restrictions.

Beginning Monday, all residence hall students are required to self-sequester for at least one week, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. Under current protocols, any of the 1,985 students living in the residence halls who test positive for COVID-19 must move out for a period of isolation, during which campus will coordinate cleaning, food services and other logistics.

COVID-19 testing results typically take two to three days to return but sometimes requires an additional day to show up online in the eTang portal, according to University Health Services, or UHS, spokesperson Tami Cate.

“Over the last few weeks, we have had some batches of tests that have taken longer,” Cate said in an email. “The delays in some tests can be due to the volume after a holiday weekend, or the start of the semester when we saw the testing numbers increase.”

For campus junior Elliot Clark, who was tested Wednesday and received his results Saturday from UHS, the overall experience has been smooth.

Nevertheless, when compared with other facilities, the testing time of UHS is generally longer, according to Clark. Upon getting tested at Stanford Health Care in Emeryville, Clark said he has received test results in only two days while his test from UHS took twice as long, and some of his housemates’ tests took four to five days.

He noted that the delay in test results is likely due to the volume of students but expressed a desire for faster turnaround times.

Clark said that although campus has dedicated adequate resources to battling COVID-19, he believes more restrictions should be enforced within the campus community, including Greek life.

“I’m just mad at the individuals who are getting together in large, unsafe groups, then bringing back Covid to their living spaces,” Clark said in an email.

Abigail Jaquez, a campus senior, echoed Clark’s sentiment on tightening regulations. To discourage students who are on the fence about going out and attending parties, Jaquez said campus should be more transparent about what potential punishment they will receive, if any.

Jaquez works as a campus student health ambassador, which entails checking students at the entrances of the residence halls based on surveillance testing badges. She emphasized that she does not speak on behalf of her employer.

Due to the rise in cases, UC Berkeley has also postponed provisional outdoor in-person instruction by one week, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore. Administration will continue to work with labs to improve testing turnaround times and adjust plans for in-person instruction if needed.

“Everyone should be especially vigilant amid this surge, continuing to wear face coverings, keeping physically distant from people outside your household, not gathering with people from outside your household, getting tested regularly, and washing your hands frequently,” Gilmore said in an email.

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.