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Coronavirus Q&A: Testing capabilities, how Westwood is faring and life at UCLA

By Jintak Han

April 4, 2020, 1:54 pm

This post was updated May 6 at 1:33 p.m.

We know you have a lot of questions about the novel coronavirus. From questions about recovery to whether or not UCLA Hill employees would be paid, Daily Bruin staffers answered your most pressing questions. Want to ask one yourself? Submit one in the form below.

As an incoming freshman, I want to know how probable is on-campus housing and courses for the Fall of 2020. (Aimee Benitez)

As of now, UCLA is planning to offer students the option of remote instruction in the fall, even if some classes are held in person. The university has not yet decided to take the entire quarter online for all students. On-campus housing is also currently not guaranteed for any students, including incoming freshmen, and the administration aims to extend the remote instruction option if it cannot fulfill housing requests.

The university has also assembled a Future Planning Task Force dedicated to making recommendations about academics, student experience, housing and more as the pandemic continues.

Can students working on campus get hazard pay? (@lissxette)

Information on whether or not student workers on campus are getting hazard pay is currently not available at this time.

Is take-out/delivery food safe? Can coronavirus be transmitted by ingestion? (@cassykinss)

See the previous question below. SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, not a gastrointestinal virus. The FDA is not aware of the coronavirus being transmitted via food or ingestion. To be safe, you should still wash your hands before cooking or eating.

Will freshman orientation still be in person? (@meganhoanggg)

All new student orientations will be held online, the university announced Monday. UCLA New Student & Transition Programs will also hold interactive online sessions where students can meet with a New Student Advisor, similar to how in-person orientation would be conducted. More information can be found here.

They are reporting the disease can come back in the fall, is that true? (@cacvelaz)

As long as there is no vaccine, the virus will continue to infect people. That’s why it’s important to maintain containment measures until a working vaccine is developed.

Los Angeles has done a good job at holding the pandemic back: Percent increase in the total number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles has not been in the double digits since April 5. But ending stay-at-home orders prematurely and letting people go back to their daily lives may bring people back into close contact with each other, making a resurgence much more likely.

China recently ended its monthslong lockdown of the Hubei province, where the virus was first discovered, after nearly eliminating any new cases of the coronavirus. However, doctors and scientists are worried that China ended the quarantine too early and a resurgence might be coming. It’s still too early to tell.

Anxiety is at an all time high; best way to cope with the situation and ease my mind? (@ohassan93)

There are many different ways to cope during these stressful times:

  • If you find yourself with more free time, find ways to occupy yourself with a new hobby. From live drawing lessons to free workout sessions, many are teaching classes online to help you stave off boredom.
  • If that doesn’t work for you, give yourself space to rest. Productivity doesn’t have to manifest tangible results; sometimes, all you need is time to process.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family, either through video messaging, virtual hangouts, or just a good old-fashioned phone call. Even when we’re apart, maintaining healthy social connections is good for our physical and mental health. And more importantly, it reminds us that we’re not alone in experiencing this unprecedented time together.
  • Pause your news alert notifications and log off your social media accounts. It can feel overwhelming to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle give yourself a break from reading the news and focus your attention to other parts of your life.
  • You can support your community with or without leaving your house there are many small businesses in Westwood that still offer takeout and delivery, and if you’re not in Westwood, consider donating to nonprofit charities that are supporting health care workers, restaurant employees and more. And might we suggest fostering or adopting a pet from an animal shelter?
  • If you’re a UCLA student, Counseling and Psychological Services is offering their services online. For more information on what they offer, check its website. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center is also offering free guided meditations through its app or on its website.

Why are we still being charged for campus fees that we can’t benefit from due to online class (@ashtincheng)

Students filed class-action lawsuits against the University of California and California State University systems April 27 demanding student fees be refunded. Read more about the lawsuit here.

While there are no talks to reduce student fees, the upcoming USAC election includes two referenda on the ballot, both of which would increase student fees. Read more about that here.

Hi, among common symptoms stated, what is considered a ‘mild’ symptom of covid-19? (@withlenee_)

Mild symptoms are those that can be managed at home. Many of these mild symptoms are similar to the flu, including fever, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, aches, pains and diarrhea. The severity of symptoms vary from person to person – some may show a multitude of symptoms while others may be completely asymptomatic. However, most cases of COVID-19 only show mild symptoms.

Sophia Tolliver, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, says fevers are considered moderate if they exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Tolliver advises patients to avoid hospitals and stay home if they have mild or moderate symptoms, including a moderate fever.

However, patients should seek immediate help if they start experiencing shortness of breath. COVID-19 causes the inner lining of the lungs to become thicker, making it harder to push oxygen into the bloodstream and causing shortness of breath. If this becomes worse, patients may need to be intubated and put on a ventilator. The CDC also recommends seeking medical help if you experience new confusion, bluish lips or face, or a persistent pain or pressure in your chest area.

What is the likelihood that summer session C or fall quarter are online? (@juhi_mehta1)

Some departments have moved summer session C classes online – Chancellor Gene Block said April 28 the decision of whether or not to conduct all summer classes remotely will be made “soon.” Block also said the university plans to offer some fall classes remotely, but the decision might change depending on the situation.

UCLA faculty have been asked to prepare for the event that summer session C will be offered remotely, but no decision has been made yet. The university has not announced whether or not fall 2020 will also be conducted virtually.

Are UCLA students still living in dorms? If so how is that going for them? (@riley.riceee)

Yes, some UCLA students are still on the Hill. UCLA Housing moved remaining students to single occupancy rooms on April 3 in an effort to promote social distancing. 

Students still on campus have been limited to two dining options and all meals are takeout. UCLA Housing also closed a number of bathrooms available on the Hill in Rieber Hall, only five bathrooms out of 25 remain open. Some have also reported a sense of loneliness of being the only few remaining on the Hill. “It’s lonely,” said one student. “All my friends are not here anymore.” Read the rest here.

Is Ucla considering partial tuition refunds for spring quarter? (Karen Sherr, parent of UCLA first-year student)

The university has not announced any partial refunds for tuition for spring quarter. However, if your student canceled their on-campus housing contract, they are entitled to a refund of their spring quarter housing and meal plan expenses. Additionally, UCLA has suspended course materials fees for certain spring quarter classes and extended the deadline to pay spring tuition BruinBill charges to April 10 at 5 p.m.

Why has UCLA not allowed pass/fail courses to count for major requirements? UC (Irvine) and Berkeley have done so already. Many universities across the country have as well and UCLA has failed its students by not implementing this change. The academic senate’s policies last week do not help any student when the large majority of departments have indicated they would not be changing their policies, and students become forced to take courses for a letter grade in order to simply graduate on time amidst this pandemic. (Kevin Lee, fourth-year student)

Some departments have allowed students to take major requirement courses as Pass/No Pass, while others have not. No decision has been made for the whole university.

So far, the university has not explained its decision to not extend pass/no pass grading to classes that are major requirements. If you would like to make your voice heard on the situation, we encourage you to submit an op-ed (around 600-900 words) to Daily Bruin Opinion.

Update: As of April 29, all LA County residents can get free coronavirus tests, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. Testing was previously limited to essential workers and those most vulnerable to the disease but was expanded as around half of the test appointments went unused. The county can conduct 18,000 tests a day as of May 1.

UCLA also offers its own nasopharyngeal swab tests and serological antibody tests at multiple locations in the UCLA Health system. However, unlike the tests offered by the county, you need an order from your primary care physician to be tested at UCLA.

Older answer:

The City of Los Angeles can conduct about 3,500 tests a day for its 4 million residents. Testing at any testing facility in the city, including at UCLA, is currently limited only to those who have more than seven days left of a mandatory two-week quarantine after a confirmed exposure to the virus; have underlying health conditions; or are over the age of 65. Unless you’re in quarantine, you must display symptoms to be eligible for a test.

In other words: No, it’s not open to all UCLA students, and it’s not feasible to open to all UCLA students at this time. It is unknown whether UCLA tests its students and staff at a higher priority than other city and county residents.

The Food and Drug Administration says the virus is not known to spread by food and food packaging. You should still wash your hands thoroughly after you return from the grocery store and make sure to clean kitchen surfaces.

Yes, alcohol can kill coronavirus in high enough concentrations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using hand sanitizers with concentrations of at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Make sure to get the right concentration, because higher concentrations of alcohol can actually evaporate before they can kill the virus. Do not use methanol, as it is toxic to humans.

Drinking alcoholic beverages, however, will not kill the coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus mostly spreads through respiratory droplets, and fabrics can absorb respiratory droplets and carry the virus in those droplets. Some types of fabrics, such as polyester, may carry more germs for a longer period of time than other, more breathable, materials such as cotton. It is recommended to use detergent with bleach in it when washing your clothes.

Serological antibody tests are now available. These tests look for the aftermath of your body’s response to the coronavirus instead of the coronavirus itself. A positive result means your body reacted to the coronavirus and produced antibodies to fight it off, but it takes between one to three weeks after infection for your body to produce these antibodies. Antibodies for SARS-CoV-1, which is responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak, remained in the bloodstream for an average of two years, so a negative antibody test result is a good indicator that you have not recovered from a previous infection of SARS-CoV-2, the current strain of coronavirus. However, you could have a current infection that your body has yet to produce antibodies for.

However, keep in mind that these antibody tests may not be as accurate as swab-based RNA tests, which work by amplifying genetic information through a process called polymerase chain reaction. Experts are also unsure if the antibodies provide immunity to future infections.

As for the PCR swab test results:

A positive novel coronavirus test result means you had a novel coronavirus infection at the time of testing. A negative result means you did not have the virus when you were tested. As of Thursday, the FDA has also approved a test that can determine if you have already recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

There are no exact figures available, but most restaurant and grocery workers do not yet have the personal protective equipment necessary to effectively prevent contracting the virus. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that the city is planning an ordinance to provide essential service workers with necessary PPEs, which may help protect them from exposure to the virus.

The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center is available to all UCLA students, regardless of their UCSHIP status. Call the Ashe Infection Control Line at (310) 206-6217 to speak to a clinician if you are experiencing symptoms of a fever or cough.

There is no known antiviral treatment or cure for COVID-19. Medication can treat individual symptoms such as fevers and cough, but not the underlying virus. Harvard Medical School recommends taking acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) if you’re experiencing pain or fevers, and most experts agree that NSAIDs like ibuprofen (i.e. Advil and Motrin) should be safe to take as well.

It is recommended that you stay hydrated and well-rested as your immune system fights the coronavirus. Immediately call your doctor if symptoms worsen. Do not wait for a medical emergency.

The World Health Organization recommends the following:

  • Isolate yourself in a well-ventilated room. Try not to move around the house. Do laundry with hot water. Regularly disinfect every surface you touch.
  • Wash your hands properly. You can find videos of how to wash hands online.
  • If you have tested positive, you should wear a mask. These do not have to be N95; you should use disposable “surgical masks.” Immediately dispose of the mask when it gets wet or dirty. Do not reuse masks. Wash your hands immediately afterwards.

We’re not doctors, so we can’t give you medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your doctor if you are not sure which medications to take.

The CDC has issued a global level-four travel warning and advises against all international travel. If you must return to the United States, it is recommended you make preparations to do so now. 

The CDC has issued a global level-three travel warning and advises against all nonessential international travel.

Even if you absolutely need to return to Los Angeles, additional travel restrictions may apply.

As of Thursday, The current travel restrictions ban the entry of foreign nationals who have visited any of the following countries in the last 14 days to the United States:

  • China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
  • Iran
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The United Kingdom

If you have to go back to Hong Kong, you will be required to quarantine yourself for two weeks either at home or at a hotel. We do not know how the situation will develop in the coming months. It’s entirely possible that Hong Kong may ban incoming flights from the United States while you’re in Los Angeles. If this happens, you may have to ask your respective embassy for help.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents should not have issues entering the U.S. The Department of State is also coordinating repatriation efforts for American citizens stranded overseas. However, under Department of Homeland Security guidelines, American citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members must arrive at one of 13 designated airports and self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

Regardless of your nationality or destination, the CDC recommends that you should isolate yourself for two weeks after traveling internationally.

Again, although it is possible to return to LA during this pandemic, you should be avoiding all unnecessary travel, both for your sake and the sake of others. UCLA has extended remote instruction through summer session A, which ends Aug. 28. Whether summer session C will also be online is unknown.

Yes, UCLA employees working during the pandemic are paid.

The University of California announced Thursday that it will not lay off career employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A career employee is someone who works at least half the time a full-time employee would and is typically employed for at least a year.

Each full-time employee whose job has been interrupted by COVID-19 can also take up to 128 hours of paid administrative leave.

Although most students have moved out of the residential halls, some students continue to live on the Hill. UCLA Housing has begun moving remaining students to single occupancy rooms April 3 in an effort to promote social distancing. Housing authorities at other UC campuses have been moving students to singles since at least March 23, according to a UC Office of the President spokesperson.

Talk to your landlord and discuss your options first. Garcetti announced a partial rent freeze for the City of LA. Under this order, your landlords cannot raise rent if you live in a rent-stabilized unit. You can check if you live in one here: https://hcidla.lacity.org/RSO-Property-Search. Additionally, California implemented a statewide moratorium on evictions through May 31, 2020.

Where on campus/what buildings were the confirmed cases at UCLA mostly in? (Joe Bruin)

UCLA has not made this information public so far

Impact on Westwood businesses (specifically Broxton, Enzo’s, the movie theaters, and any other beloved Westwood locations), also whether or not the UCLA Store will offer free shipping of textbooks and school supplies to its students because so far I haven’t seen anything (Kaitlyn Peterson, 4th-year English & Communications student)

Rocco’s Tavern has laid off 95% of its staff and is applying for emergency small business loans and aid from the government. The state put in place a moratorium on evictions, however, so they might not have to pay rent (which has been increasing for many buildings in the Village). But no one knows what it will be like for local businesses once the pandemic is over.

If you want to continue supporting Westwood businesses, Daily Bruin created a map of their updated hours and if they offer delivery or takeout.

In regards to the UCLA store, shipping for textbooks is free through Sunday for orders of $50 or more.

You may have immunity for a while, but just like the flu, new strains of the coronavirus to which you may not have immunity will form over time. Luckily, SARS-CoV-2 mutates at a fraction of the rate of the flu virus, which means immunity (either natural or vaccine-induced) will likely last for a while.


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Jintak Han | Senior staff photojournalist & news reporter
Jintak Han is a senior staff photojournalist and news reporter. He photographs anything that catches his eye and writes for the City & Crime beat. He previously served as the 2016-2017 Assistant Photo editor.
Jintak Han is a senior staff photojournalist and news reporter. He photographs anything that catches his eye and writes for the City & Crime beat. He previously served as the 2016-2017 Assistant Photo editor.
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