Zoom class, FaceTime with friends, room service, repeat: this is the life of dozens of USC students quarantined at the USC Hotel after testing positive for COVID-19.
The USC Hotel, located across campus on South Figueroa between West Jefferson and Exposition Boulevards, currently holds an average of 75 to 100 students in quarantine out of the 250 room spaces available, according to USC Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman.
The building is just one isolation spot the university has allocated for students who are unable to isolate on their own. USC also designated a residential hall to add an additional 250 rooms, should an outbreak require more space.
Last week USC reported a 10% spike in positive cases with 186 COVID cases reported among the student population tested through USC Student Health. According to Van Orman, no quarantined students have exhibited a need for hospitalization.
“We definitely do have students who are ill, students who are experiencing fever or experiencing more severe symptoms,” Van Orman said. “But at this point, we’ve not had anyone who’s required hospitalization. We’ve also had many students who have very mild symptoms.”
The hotel quarantine is not a requirement for students near campus who have tested positive, but is offered as an accommodation to limit spread of the disease within multi-occupancy households. According to junior Hayley Piazza, who has been at the hotel for a week, students get $70 a day for room service and are not allowed to leave their room. Everything is delivered to each individual room, and each occupant gets water bottles and coffee for free. Piazza lives with three other roommates in an apartment off campus; two of them are currently staying at the hotel, as well.
“It has been an adjustment, I’ve been really productive and brought things to keep myself occupied but I’ve missed the fresh air and my friends,” Piazza said. “I’ve been FaceTiming people every day but it’s obviously not the same ... definitely ready to leave at this point.”
Piazza is staying on the 10th floor of the hotel and will be checking out Saturday. Mason Robinson, a senior majoring in communication, has also been at the USC Hotel for almost a week and is hoping to check out this Sunday.
“It’s been hard living here but [I’m] realizing how lucky I am to have all this provided to me while also not showing that many symptoms,” Robinson said. “It’s hard to complain about missing people for a few days. FaceTiming friends every day though just to pass the time helps.”
USC isn’t the only L.A.-based university offering isolation rooms for students who test positive for COVID. Loyola Marymount University designated their McKay residential hall for isolation units. Seven of their traditional residence halls were closed for the fall semester, according to the LMU COVID-19 reopening plan.
UCLA set aside a number of private rooms in its housing facilities to serve as isolation rooms when students either test positive or are symptomatic waiting for results. Food is delivered by trained employees, according to the UCLA housing website.
Van Orman said she is cautiously optimistic about this week’s COVID numbers, which showed a decline in positive cases. The USC Hotel will continue to be offered to students throughout the semester.