USC’s chief health officer issued a letter Friday to students, faculty and staff notifying them of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

There are 29 active COVID-19 cases among USC students and staff, according to Dr. Sarah Van Orman of the Office of Student Health. There were eight average weekly cases two weeks ago, she wrote.

There was also an increase in positivity in the surveillance testing of individuals without known exposures, Van Orman wrote.

“In many cases, the transmission has been through close contact with just a small number of people — small gatherings with family and friends, study groups and travel,” Van Orman wrote.

Van Orman urged the USC community “to continue to stay vigilant in safety and hygiene practices.”

“As hard as this has been, we have made a great deal of progress in curbing the transmission rate that was peaking in the summer,” Van Orman wrote. “We can continue to make progress, but only if we keep our guard up as we head into the winter months.”

Van Orman advised everyone to maintain a safe distance when seeing others, adding that gathering indoors while eating or drinking posed the greatest risk, pointing out that even well-intended activities like a study group could expose friends and colleagues.

“Complete a flu immunization to protect yourself and others in the community,” Van Orman wrote. “Please also follow the precautions for hand hygiene, face coverings and physical distancing to keep yourselves and others safe.”

Van Orman urged anyone who tested positive in the campus vicinity to contact USC’s COVID-19 response center at 213-740-6291 or covid19@usc.edu.

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