March 31, 2020

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

We write to share two important COVID-19 related developments. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has deployed GIS mapping to more precisely identify locations of confirmed cases. As a result, a previously confirmed case of COVID-19 was found to be located within the boundaries of the Isla Vista community. We have no indication that this case involves anyone affiliated with UC Santa Barbara, but given the proximity of Isla Vista to campus, the number of our students who live in Isla Vista, and our faculty and staff who live in Isla Vista or adjacent communities, we wanted to notify our campus community of this development. We send our best wishes to this individual as they recover. 

We would like to use this opportunity to remind our students, especially those who remain in campus housing and who live in Isla Vista, of the actions we can all take to save lives by helping slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the preventative actions recommended by the CDC, we strongly urge everyone to follow Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order and the IV Community Services District’s state-of-emergency declaration that directs everyone to stay inside, avoid social gatherings with anyone other than those who share your living space, and practice social/physical distancing. Please read a new message from our faculty health experts, our Associated Students president, and our Student Health medical director that I have included as an attachment below. Every one of us has an important role to play in battling this pandemic.

In addition to the case in Isla Vista, we were informed by two members of our UC Santa Barbara community who live together that they both tested positive for COVID-19 after one of the individuals returned from travel to Europe on Friday, March 13. Both individuals have not been on campus and have been in self-quarantine since March 13. They currently remain in self-quarantine off campus and are recovering. Our thoughts and well-wishes are with our two colleagues.  

These confirmed cases in our community will raise concerns and questions. Our highest priority is protecting the health of each and every one of you, but we also are committed to ensuring everyone’s privacy. Santa Barbara County Public Health conducts thorough investigations of positive cases and notifies any individuals they believe may have had contact with the confirmed cases. We will work closely with public health officials to follow notification procedures and guidelines and to keep our community informed.

For our community members who may be feeling anxiety and stress, we urge you to reach out and contact campus support services. Students in need can reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Mental Health Peers, and faculty and staff can contact the Academic & Staff Assistance Program (ASAP). Additional information and assistance are available at our Office of International Students and Scholars and our Student Health Service (SHS) as well.

We are thankful to everyone in our community for playing their part to slow the spread of this virus. We also want to express our deepest appreciation to all of those individuals who are on the frontlines, here on campus and across the nation and globe – risking their own health and safety to protect us and to support the daily life of our communities. We are grateful for their heroism. 

Please take good care of yourselves and each other. 


Henry T. Yang

Letter to Our UC Santa Barbara Students

Students at UC Santa Barbara — We are now at a critical moment.

We are writing to inform you that the number of cases is increasing rapidly in Santa Barbara County. There are 88 cases as of today, 14 of which are in individuals younger than 29, and one confirmed case in Isla Vista. If we can slow the spread of the disease throughout IV by minimizing contact with each other, every one of us — but especially you, our students — will be the heroes of our community. By standing strong in adherence with strict social distancing, we can beat this disease.

To the people who have been taking their social responsibilities seriously, we thank you. Thank you for being strong and accepting the challenge of staying at home and taking these precautions. 

Our message remains simple: We need your help now more than ever. With the rapidly mounting case numbers of COVID-19 in our communities, we have reached a tipping point. If we fail to act decisively at this moment, this disease will extract a terrible toll on our community. It is not an exaggeration to say that without maintaining social distance, our community will very likely lose lives to this invisible virus. In a very short time, COVID-19 could spread within the close quarters of Isla Vista, leaving no one untouched. 

We understand there are many temptations: socializing with friends you do not live with, gathering at the beach, having Deltopia. We ask each of you to be a leader and to communicate to your friends that the social proximity of large parties and gatherings, especially one like Deltopia, is dangerous. This is the time to be mindful and smart. Doing the right thing now will give you the gift of another day, in the not too distant future, to enjoy with your friends and family. We know this isn’t easy, but we can overcome this together.

Please remember how COVID-19 spreads. It begins with a small number of cases. Some people may not even know they have the virus, because sometimes its symptoms are mild. During this time, the virus is silently working its way through the community, and before long, the number of cases will increase dramatically. Large numbers of people will become infected. Young people are not exempt. You can suffer for weeks and weeks with the illness and sustain lifelong damage to your lungs or kidneys. You can infect others including your parents and grandparents for whom the disease has a high risk of mortality. In a crowded place like Isla Vista, the virus will spread quickly, so we must strictly adhere to social distancing.

What is social distancing? Deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illnesses. Staying at least 6 feet from others reduces your risk of catching COVID-19. Six feet is about the length of a pool table. 

How can I practice social distancing? Avoid gatherings and parties, avoid handshakes and hugs, and limit contact with people

Does it work? YES! 
• Without social distancing, one person can infect 2.5 people on day one and a total of 460 people over 30 days. 

• By reducing social contacts by 50%, one person can infect 1.25 people on day one and a total of 15 people over 30 days. That is a reduction of over 30-fold!

Remember COVID-19 does not discriminate. It can come from any person, at any time, in any place. Do not treat those you believe may have COVID-19 with acts of racism or hate. There is no room for that behavior in our community. Let us come together during this tough time. We thank you all again for your continued cooperation in doing your part.

Kenneth S. Kosik, MD
Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute
Harriman Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Carolina Arias Gonzalez, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Charles E. Samuel, PhD
C.A. Storke Professor and Distinguished Professor, Emeritus
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Ali Javanbakht, MD
Medical Director and Interim Executive Director
UCSB Student Health

Alison Sir
UCSB Student Body President
Associated Students