Cal Poly has become so overwhelmed by on-campus students testing positive for COVID-19 that the university began isolating COVID-positive students in local San Luis Obispo hotels on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

“The university engaged off-campus beds because it needed more than the 62 beds available on campus.” Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote to Mustang News via email. 

In total, the university has 194 isolation beds, of which 132 are located in off-campus hotels, Lazier said. 

On-campus students who test positive for COVID-19 are also currently being offered a $400 gift card to Cal Poly’s University Store if they move home to isolate instead of relying on the university for isolation either on-campus or at an off-campus hotel. 

“It is important to note that in all cases in which students return home, they are instructed to do so only if they agree not to travel by public transportation and only if there is no one at their home in a high-risk category,” Lazier said.

Students who test positive but live in on-campus shared apartments are being asked to isolate in their bedroom, including those with housemates who do not have COVID-19. Lazier said Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein has approved all of the university’s public health plans, including this isolation policy. 

Mustang News confirmed with students placed in isolation arrangements that the university is using some rooms in the Cerro Vista and Poly Canyon Village residential communities to isolate COVID-positive students. 

The university began isolating COVID-positive students in hotels two days after President Jeffrey Armstrong sent a campuswide email, assuring the community that COVID-19 transmission levels were not higher than what officials and administrators anticipated. 

Lazier said he cannot disclose where students are being isolated, including which off-campus hotels are being used. 

Lazier wrote over email that he is not currently able to confirm whether on-campus isolation beds are at full capacity. He said that he is also not currently able to confirm the date Cal Poly finalized contracts and arrangements with local hotels to isolate COVID-positive students in them. 

Lazier said the university has a lower number of on-campus isolation beds this quarter after converting some into standard housing beds for students in significant need of housing. 

As of Thursday morning, Cal Poly recorded 677 positive COVID-19 tests since Sunday, Jan. 2. Lazier said he was unable to currently answer how many of those positive tests belong to on-campus students who have yet to be placed into isolation arrangements.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify statements from University Spokesperson Matt Lazier and data from Cal Poly’s COVID-19 Dashboard that reflects positive test results, not the number of COVID-positive students.

This story comes from The Hill, a team of data analysts and reporters focused on data-driven and investigative stories at Mustang News. Click here to read more stories from The Hill.

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