As some students return to the UC San Diego campus for in-person learning, the university is providing even more ways for them to complete their required weekly COVID-19 testing.
Nearly a dozen vending machines distributing free, self-administered COVID-19 test kits have been placed across campus -- near restaurants, gyms and resident halls -- in order for students and employees attending classes or living on-campus to complete their required weekly COVID-19 testing.
A steady flow of students were using the vending machines on Monday, including first-year medical student Bryan Diggs.
"I'm a big fan of the testing especially with everyone coming back from winter break, there's definitely inherently a lot more risk with all the students that kind of traveled and are coming back now, so having the testing requirements increase will definitely help keep everyone safe," Diggs said.
Tests must be taken within 5 to 9 days of each other. Students who take a test must return them to drop boxes next to the vending machines within 72 hours of administering them. On-campus employees, who are required to take the test every week, can take the tests for free, too.
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About 1,000 more students returned to on-campus housing this week as the winter quarter began, bringing the total to about 10,000. The school is limiting the number of people allowed to return to campus and less than 10% of courses will be offered in-person.
The vaccine vending machines are being offered as part of UC San Diego's Return to Learn program, which requires face coverings on campus, daily health screenings of both students and employees, weekly testing, wastewater testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, and other mitigation efforts. Some classrooms have even been moved outdoors.
If an individual tests positive for the disease, contract tracing is immediately started to find an isolate anyone else who has been exposied.
UC San Diego's testing program has tested more than 133,000 students and employees since March. In the last seven days, 61 on-campus students and 82 off-campus students in the San Diego area have tested positive for the disease. 45 campus employees have tested positive.
The positivity rate among UC San Diego students and faculty, about 1.6%, is much lower than the county's overall rate of more than 12%.