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Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is isolating COVID-positive students at hotels due to on-campus bed shortage

Students outside a university building with green hills in the background
The campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which has had 338 on-campus students test positive for the coronavirus since Dec. 30.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo started housing students who test positive for the coronavirus at off-campus hotels after campus isolation beds filled up during the first week of classes this week, a university official confirmed.

Off-campus isolation started Wednesday, said Matt Lazier, a university spokesman. There were 194 isolation beds as of Thursday: 62 beds on campus and 132 beds at hotels.

“The university engaged off-campus beds because it needed more than the 62 beds available on campus,” Lazier said.

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The off-campus isolation was first reported by the Mustang News.

Lazier said he could not identify the locations being used for isolation in order to protect students’ confidential health information and privacy.

He also could not say how many isolation beds were available and how many were occupied Thursday, because those numbers change as students go in and out of isolation.

“I can say that as of right now, there are many beds that remain open and available,” Lazier said.

As COVID-19 cases rise, at least eight California State University campuses are starting the semester remotely.

According to university data, 338 on-campus students have tested positive for the coronavirus since Dec. 30, with 74 new cases reported Wednesday.

University officials anticipated an uptick in cases due to the Omicron variant and have a plan in place for dealing with the ongoing surge, Lazier said.

“All indications from health officials are that the Omicron variant is milder than previous variants, and with mitigations that already have proven successful for us … we remain confident in our ability to slow the spread of the virus and maintain a mostly in-person living and learning experience for our students,” he said.

The winter quarter began Monday with a mix of in-person and online classes, and a requirement that all students take a coronavirus test during the first week of classes.

Lazier said that as the campus prepared to begin its winter quarter, the number of on-campus isolation beds was lower than in the past because very low case rates in the fall allowed the university to revert some isolation beds to standard housing to meet growing demand from students.

Officials are offering $400 gift cards to the university store as incentives for students to move home for isolation if they can do so without using public transportation and if no one in their household is at high risk for serious illness or death, the spokesman said. The measure has been in place throughout the pandemic and was approved by San Luis Obispo County health authorities.

Updates

4:04 p.m. Jan. 7, 2022: This article has been updated to credit the Mustang News, which first broke the story.


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