Coronavirus response: Update to campus on COVID-19

UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher sent the following message to the campus community on Friday:

We are writing with updates related to COVID-19. First, a message of thanks for all you are doing to adapt to our new reality of remotely delivered instruction, social distancing, and sheltering in place. It has been a radical and abrupt change in all aspects of our lives and we appreciate your patience as we work to protect the health of the members of our campus community while trying to preserve our mission.

You all are likely aware that Governor Newsom issued a statewide executive order yesterday. The Governor’s order complements the Bay Area orders, so it doesn’t reflect a change for our campus and the directives that have been issued about coming to work.

Cases of COVID-19 associated with the campus

We reported on our first case last Saturday, March 14 in this message.

Health experts advise that COVID-19 has been circulating widely in the Bay Area for some time and it is highly likely that many of us have come into contact with an infected individual. As you probably know, testing is not widely available in the Bay Area. The virus has already become so prevalent that public health authorities believe that if testing were widely available, testing would reveal that many of us have already been exposed to this virus.

The primary public health strategy now is mitigation: reducing exposure by rigorous compliance with social distancing recommendations, regular handwashing and extra care to avoid unnecessary contact with our most vulnerable populations. This is most effective when followed by all of us as individuals. Local public health authorities are no longer tracing contacts between people who test positive and others except in exceptional circumstances.

We are giving students in our residence halls more information to assist them in making choices to leave campus housing if they are able. We are committed to remaining operational for those who need or wish to remain housed on campus. We will continue to  alter our dining hall operations to mitigate the spread of the virus. We have provided detailed information and instructions to students with housing and dining contracts.

Travel

The U.S. Department of State has issued a Global Level 4/Do Not Travel advisory this afternoon.

If your university-related travel has been affected by COVID-19, please visit the Berkeley Travel Office website for information about reimbursement.

Additionally, for business travelers who booked their travel through Connexxus and are currently traveling and,

  1. are in need of emergency assistance related to making changes to their travel reservations or,
  2. need assistance for medical referral, evacuation, repatriation, or other emergency services unrelated to specific travel reservations (services listed here are also available to business travelers that may not have booked through Connexxus but registered their travel with the UC Travel Insurance program):

Please consult the emergency assistance page of the UC Berkeley Travel site.

Events

Campus units have cancelled events and event reservations through April 7. The current policy regarding campus events and updates as they become available will be posted on the Berkeley News COVID-19 information website. We have not yet made a decision about spring commencement activities.

Parking

While we have been clear about having everyone stay away from campus, we recognize there are very limited situations where someone will need to be on campus. For that reason, we have suspended parking restrictions and will not be issuing tickets. The only exceptions are that you are not permitted to park in fire lanes or reserved spaces, or disabled spaces without a placard, and there is still no parking between 2am and 5am. For more information about parking and transportation during this time, please visit the parking website.

Well-being

We  recognize that many people are experiencing heightened anxiety and fear in response to the current pandemic and the uncertainty it brings. While we all strive to support each other as a community, at times, it may also be useful to connect with formal resources for assistance.

You can access free, confidential support from a licensed mental health professional through Be Well at Work – Employee Assistance. Appointments, including phone and video options are available, and can be scheduled:

Our coronavirus faculty/staff wellness resource page provides information on a range of related Be Well topics such as:

  • ergonomic tips for remote workstations,
  • taking care of our physical well-being through exercise and nutrition,
  • work/life and parenting resources,
  • strategies for addressing elder care challenges, and 
  • ways to understand our emotional responses during this time. 

We will continuously update these resources to best support you.

Visit Be Well at Work for a wide-range of additional information and resources to support faculty/staff health from prevention to treatment that may be useful anytime.

Please protect your health with these tips to prevent illness and tips to prepare your household from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and review this help from UC health plans.

Principles of Community

We have been made aware of xenophobic acts on our campus and want everyone to know in no uncertain terms that this kind of behavior is wrong, goes against our values and violates our Principles of Community. If you experience this or any other form of race- or ethnicity-based targeting, please report it at our Stop Hate website. Now is the time to be practicing compassion and kindness, recognizing that each of us is operating in a state of uncertainty.

We will continue to keep you updated as decisions are made and we have pertinent information to share. Meantime, please take care of yourselves and be well.