Statement from the UC Systemwide Testing and Tracing Task Force

This is a working document. It is anticipated to evolve in response to new information as it emerges and the dynamic nature of the pandemic. It is current as of June 4, 2020.

In early 2020, the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2 pandemic quickly swept the globe and significantly impacted all UC locations. In March 2020, the University moved quickly to modify operations in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Campuses transitioned to remote instruction, curtailed non-essential research, and implemented telework for many administrative services and functions. As the pandemic is expected to continue through at least 2021, additional action is needed to continue to protect the UC community as locations return to onsite operations.

The novel coronavirus challenges normal operations in a number of ways and a return to onsite operations is not without risk of morbidity and mortality for the students, faculty and staff living, learning, and working on our campuses. The dynamics of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic continue to evolve, and it is reasonable to expect ongoing transmission and outbreaks in US communities until herd immunity is achieved or an effective vaccine is available.

To decrease opportunities for viral transmission on UC campuses, significant mitigation measures will be required. The cornerstone of mitigation will be decreasing normal campus population density, in order to decrease interactions that may result in person-to-person transmission of the virus. Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI), including performing frequent hand hygiene, practicing physical distancing, and wearing facial coverings while in public should be required to reduce opportunities for viral spread. Other measures, including influenza vaccination and education for all individuals who will enter UC locations will be critical to the University’s ability to increase onsite activities.

Diagnostic testing, case investigation, and contact tracing are also strategies for mitigating risk, and can inform how best to deploy resources – such as isolation, quarantine, and other support activities – to facilitate containment. These mitigation strategies, however, will not completely eliminate risk or prevent disease transmission and should not be seen as a guarantee of safety. They can also create a false impression of safety, and unintentionally signal to many who test negative that it is acceptable to relax social distancing practices. Given the scale of the UC System and community prevalence of the virus, illness and even death from COVID-19 may occur among members of the UC community following a return to onsite operations.

To inform campus decision-making related to testing and contact tracing, a systemwide Testing and Tracing Task Force was convened to make recommendations for UC locations, with the exception of the academic health centers, which are already following previously-developed, specific infection prevention guidance for the health care setting.