UC Berkeley faces surge in COVID-19 cases

Infographic about positive COVID-19 cases
Aasha Turner/Staff

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COVID-19 has been spreading through campus ever since students returned from the academic holiday in November. However, since the end of Thanksgiving break, there has been a significant increase in positive cases.

According to the UC Berkeley Coronavirus Dashboard, there have been 143 cases since Nov. 28, as of press time.

Of all of the groups recorded, undergraduate students have the most cases of anyone else on campus, according to the dashboard. The dashboard also demonstrates undergraduates have had the highest case rate since mid-August, when students returned to campus.

It is still uncertain whether the rise in cases — in addition to occurring because students return from a variety of places — are caused by the omicron strain, known to be highly contagious. As the tests on campus do not test for which particular strain it is, there is little information on this, according to ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert.

UC President Michael Drake issued a letter to every UC chancellor in response to the rising omicron variant. In the letter, he urged the chancellors to design and implement a plan to return to campus in spring.

“This plan should incorporate a test, sequester, and retest model as described in the UC Health Coordinating Committee’s guidance for returning students,” Drake said in the letter. “This may require campuses to begin the term using remote instruction in order to allow students to complete an appropriate testing protocol as they return to campus.”

Drake also stated the length of his suggested remote instruction varies from the different campuses and their individual situations.

While campus does not intend to change its spring instruction method, plans are subject to change depending on local public health data.

Students also have the ability to help themselves from the virus. Weichert urged students to do their part to stay safe.

“The bottom line is if you haven’t gotten your booster, get your booster shot if you’re eligible,” Weichert said. “Then you can look forward to a spring semester that we want it to be. But we have to go through all steps to ensure that that is a possibility.”

Contact Diego Lapayese-Calderón at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @diego_lapayese.