Fraternity parties lead to 47 COVID cases at UC Berkeley

University of California (UC) Berkeley officials are scrambling to contain a coronavirus outbreak of 47 new cases this week, after tracing most of them to summer fraternity parties, writes Ron Kroichick for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Before this sudden spike, the university had reported only 23 cases since the start of the pandemic in March, according to an email sent Wednesday 8 July to the campus community. It referred to a “notable increase” in ‘Cal’ students testing positive for the virus and described the situation as “concerning”. The majority of new cases stemmed from a series of recent parties connected to the CalGreek system, the email said. Numerous positive tests this week were traced to one party held during the long Fourth of July weekend, a source told The Chronicle. Several members of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity tested positive and are quarantined in that house, another source said.

UC announced its fall semester plan on 17 June, with most classes taught remotely starting on 26 August. Only courses of fewer than 25 students will be held in person, and even then professors and department heads must request special permission to teach in classrooms. This week’s outbreak threatens to derail those plans. As university spokeswoman Janet Gilmore put it via email on Wednesday: “If we continue at this rate of spread, it is hard to imagine going through with our fall plans to return faculty, staff and students to campus in the way we had in mind.”
Full report on the San Francisco Chronicle site