In an email issued to students on Friday afternoon, USC limited public access to campus and reminded students to stay away from campus in response to statewide stay-at-home orders established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message, signed by President Carol Folt and Provost Charles Zukoski, stated that access to the University Park Campus will be limited to a “number of entrances open only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and we will not permit any social gatherings.” Students remaining in on-campus housing will have access to campus after 6 p.m.
Furthermore, students remaining in on-campus housing may be required to move to a different room.
This memo comes in light of separate orders that were issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday evening.
USC’s message stressed that certain essential activities are still permitted. A full list of essential businesses can be found on the Los Angeles County website dedicated to information about COVID-19. City government services such as police stations, jails and fire stations, as well as healthcare facilities, gas stations and grocery stores are among the essential services defined by the press release. Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, or other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged people are also considered essential.
A press release from the City of Los Angeles’ official website laid out guidelines to be followed under Garcetti’s “safer at home” plan, which is set to be in effect until April 19 and is subject to extension.
Under the order, the following is allowed, among other activities:
- Going to the grocery store.
- Picking up medications.
- Ordering take-out from restaurants.
- Going to medical appointments.
- Going for bike rides, hikes, runs or walks for exercise.
- Helping someone get necessary supplies.
This is what is not allowed under the order:
- Visiting friends or family if there is no urgent need.
- Being within 6 feet of others when you go out.
- Traveling to or from a job outside of the city.
- Visiting loved ones in the hospital or other caring facility, such as a nursing home.
- Going to work unless it is an essential service.
The City’s press release specifies that this is a “legally enforceable order,” in which “you may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for doing so.”
Governor Newsom’s “stay at home” order was issued moments after Garcetti’s, which sought to impose a larger statewide mandate encouraging citizens to remain in their residences. Newsom specified that this was not a law-enforced order, but a socially enforced one.
“We will have social pressure that will encourage people to do the right thing,” Newsom said.
The orders came as the USC community continued to adjust to dramatic changes in it’s spring semester.
Businesses that are considered essential under the statewide mandate, such as the Trader Joes and Target at the USC Village, continued to operate as of Friday. Restaurants including Dulce and Saola still offered takeout options, according to their websites, while some restaurants, like Trejo’s Tacos, have closed their USC Village locations.
The USC Village website urged visitors to look at the specific website or social accounts of the businesses they anticipate visiting or ordering from before doing so. Tables have been removed from the Village plaza, while signs were placed around USC’s perimeter on Friday to remind others about the new campus access restrictions.
Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman said in a Zoom press conference on Friday that students in university housing will be allowed to stay. “We want to continue to allow them to live there [and] continue to make sure they have access to food,” Van Orman said.
The student basic needs program is also still running, and a number of resources for food, clinics and shelters available to students can be found on their website.
USC announced on Monday that it would finish the rest of its academic semester remotely. Two members of the USC community - one student and one caregiver at Keck Hospital - were announced as testing positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19. Van Orman stated Friday that the university will provide no further updates on COVID-19 cases in the community.
There are 1,006 positive cases and 19 deaths from the novel coronavirus in California as of March 19, according to the California Department of Public Health.