COVID-19: Vacant UCSD Dorms to House COVID-19 Patients


Jacob Sutherland

This article is a part of our news series on the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, click here.

An undisclosed vacant dorm building at UC San Diego will be used to house COVID-19 patients, according to San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in an NBC 7 article. The specific building and date of opening have yet to be determined, although Fletcher anticipates the selected dorm will house between 200-250 patients. However, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla released a campus wide statement on April 1 stating that the one Nuevo East building would be used to provide 340 rooms for “‘step-down’ and low-level cases of COVID-19.”

While UCSD had announced in a March 24 campus wide update their intention to create isolation housing for students starting April 1, 2020, the only notice for on campus housing to be used was done by UCSD Health Chief Information Officer Dr. Christopher Longhurst on public radio on March 21, although concrete details as to whether or not the housing plan would come to fruition had not been made public.

According to the article, the dorm will be used for COVID-19 patients who are not sick enough to be in a hospital, but who are still too sick to return home. 

San Diego County health officials will need to secure a number of medical supplies, as well as figure out the logistics behind the patient housing before any dorms will be open for operation. No date has been selected, although Fletcher suggests that the dorm will be operational in the “near future.”

While the UCSD administration has encouraged students to return home, a number of students remain in on campus housing. While no initial word had been given as to where the patients would be housed, an April 1 statement by Chancellor Khosla stated that San Diego County would be leasing one Nuevo East building to house 350 low-risk COVID-19 patients.

Before Khosla’s statement was released, a representative from the Graduate Student Association reached out to the UCSD Guardian to state that several residents of the Viento Building in the Nuevo West complex believed that their building was being used for COVID-19 patient isolation, which resulted in many graduate student residents leaving the building. The university has not yet to responded to a request for comment to clarify where these patients will be housed.

As of Tuesday, March 31, the city of San Diego had a cumulative total of 734 cases of COVID-19, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The UCSD Guardian has reached out to Nathan Fletcher and the UCSD Administration, and will continue to monitor this story as it develops.

Photo courtesy of UC San Diego.

This article was updated at 7:30 pm to reflect that the UCSD administration had previously announced their intention to create student isolation housing in dorms on March 24.

This article was updated at 12:30 pm to reflect that the UCSD Health Chief Information Officer had announced an intention for the university to house COVID-19 patients on campus.

This article was updated at 12:30 pm to reflect that according to a representative of the Graduate Student Association, graduate students in the Viento Building of Nuevo West had reasons to believe that the building was being used for patient isolation.

This article was updated at 6:50 pm to include information from a notification sent out by Chancellor Khosla.