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With COVID-19 cases rising at Cal Poly, university begins isolating virus-positive students in hotels

Cal Poly students waiting in the COVID-19 testing line as classes return from winter break
Angel Russell
Cal Poly students waiting in the COVID-19 testing line as classes return from winter break

Amid a surge in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students contracting COVID-19, the university is now isolating students who test positive on campus and in local hotels as the first week of winter quarter shifts several classes online.

It’s been a constant line at the Cal Poly COVID-19 testing site, as students are returning to classes this week from winter break.

“This is ridiculous!” said Cal Poly student Alexa Griffin. She said even though she had an appointment to get tested, she still had to wait in a long line, and that getting an appointment was hard.

“I have friends that waited two hours to get tested,” Griffin said.

There is a spike in Cal Poly students testing positive for COVID-19 with a daily average of over 100 students testing positive, according to the campus COVID-19 dashboard.

Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said the university has started to isolate some COVID-19 positive students in hotels off-campus. He said due to privacy concerns, the university will not be releasing the names of the hotels, or the number of students being moved into isolation.

Lazier said in an email to KCBX News, “I do not have specific numbers on how many isolation beds are currently occupied, but I can say right now, there are many beds that remain open and available.”

“Some people are taking precautions and being safe," Cal Poly student Cooper Mellow said. "But a lot of people aren’t.”

Mellow said he isn’t surprised by the spike in cases, but he's concerned what changes the university may make if the surge continues.

“I definitely don’t know the implications of a bunch of people getting COVID," Mellow said. "So, I’m trying to do my best in not going to parties or anything like that.”

In an email sent out to students, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said part of the spike in cases is from students not following the isolation and quarantine order, and from students interacting with other students without wearing masks.

Lazier said the university is working closely with County Public Health on plans to manage the spike in cases.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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