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UC Berkeley blames spike in COVID-19 on sorority and frat parties after 47 new cases in one week

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UC Berkeley has reported coronavirus cases have doubled in one due to a number of sorority and frat parties where members mingled with outsiders and didn’t follow basic social distancing guidelines.

As a picture of one gathering on a lawn showed, many people got together without face masks and were not standing 6 feet apart to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Cases at the public college in Berkeley, California have shot up 104 percent from 23 reported at the start of the pandemic, to 47 new cases.

As campus recovery teams work on a plan to return more students, staff and faculty to this fall, discussing how to develop small ‘bubbles’ of 10-12 students living on campus among 6,500 residents in single and double rooms, testing had revealed a fresh outbreak.

Coronavirus cases at UC Berkeley have increased from 23 at the start of the pandemic to 47 new cases this week. 'Generally, these infections are directly related to social events where students have not followed basic safety measures,' officials said in a message to the school community

Coronavirus cases at UC Berkeley have increased from 23 at the start of the pandemic to 47 new cases this week. ‘Generally, these infections are directly related to social events where students have not followed basic safety measures,’ officials said in a message to the school community

University of California, Berkeley has been working on a plan to bring back students and staff this fall but officials have said 'at the rate we are seeing increases in cases, it's becoming harder to imagine bringing our campus community back in the way we are envisioning'

University of California, Berkeley has been working on a plan to bring back students and staff this fall but officials have said ‘at the rate we are seeing increases in cases, it’s becoming harder to imagine bringing our campus community back in the way we are envisioning’

‘The majority of these new cases stem from a series of recent parties connected to the CalGreek system, which included students both within the CalGreek community and others, and led to some secondary spread within households and within other smaller gatherings,’ UC Berkeley University Health Services Medical Director, Anna Harte, and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Guy Nicolette, wrote in a message to the campus community on Wednesday. 

‘Generally, these infections are directly related to social events where students have not followed basic safety measures such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings, limiting event size, and gathering outside.’

Berkeley, California was reporting 214 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 10 from the day before. The city has a 1.7 percent positivity rate.

Alameda County and the Bay Area, excluding Berkeley, was reporting 7,031 cases and 141 deaths. Cases had increased by 23 and there were two deaths from the previous day. 

It’s as new students prepare to move onto campus from August. 

The university previously announced its intention to increase social interaction while keeping overall exposure dramatically reduced.

For Fall 2020, UC Berkeley announced that it would conduct limited in-person classes while also offering remote learning.

Berkeley, California was reporting 214 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 10 from the day before. The city has a 1.7 percent positivity rate

Berkeley, California was reporting 214 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 10 from the day before. The city has a 1.7 percent positivity rate

'The majority of these new cases stem from a series of recent parties connected to the CalGreek system,' Health Services Medical Director, Anna Harte, and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Guy Nicolette, wrote in a message

A CalGreek house is pictured

‘The majority of these new cases stem from a series of recent parties connected to the CalGreek system,’  Health Services Medical Director, Anna Harte, and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Guy Nicolette, wrote in a message

UC Berkeley also said it was developing a testing strategy for those living, working or studying on campus and that it would be combined with contact tracing to try to identify outbreaks early.

Plans included designating stairwells as up or down only and offering food services on a to-go basis and restricting use of facilities.

The school is not reduces fees despite the limited access for students. 

‘The increase in cases across the country and locally are a powerful reminder of how contagious this disease is and how quickly the disease can spread,’ the message from officials continued. 

‘You can be asymptomatic and still transmit the infection to others. Continuing to protect ourselves and others by following all public health guidelines is critical.’

They added: ‘The campus is committed to doing all we can to minimize infections and outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus while continuing to further our mission. The success of this depends on all of us doing our part to keep ourselves and our campus community safe and healthy.’

They said that ‘at the rate we are seeing increases in cases, it’s becoming harder to imagine bringing our campus community back in the way we are envisioning’.

But students complained to KPIX that the cost of housing made it difficult for people not to ‘live on top of each other’. 

It comes as President Trump criticizes schools for staying closed.

The school is offering limited access this fall due to the pandemic. It said the success of continuing their mission this fall 'depends on all of us doing our part to keep ourselves and our campus community safe and healthy.' The Sather Tower at UC Berkeley is pictured

The school is offering limited access this fall due to the pandemic. It said the success of continuing their mission this fall ‘depends on all of us doing our part to keep ourselves and our campus community safe and healthy.’ The Sather Tower at UC Berkeley is pictured

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