COVID-19 Operating Guidelines

La Jolla Institute closely follows public health orders issued by San Diego County and California public health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19. San Diego County is currently in the purple tier of California’s safe reopening plan.

On Monday, Dec. 7, a new COVID-19 stay-at-home order took effect in San Diego County. The order prohibits gatherings of people from different households and will be in place until at least Dec. 28 or until intensive care unit capacity projections rise to 15% or more.  As essential personnel and experts in immunology, we should recognize the larger health care crisis and continue to lead by example.

What does that mean for La Jolla Institute for Immunology?

  • We will stay in Expanded Research Mode with some adjustments to our current guidelines to comply with the state order and to allow the Institute to stay open and research to continue while COVID-19 case numbers are spiking across the country, straining facilities and those in front line medical positions. 
  • All meetings must be conducted virtually; for this reason we’ve closed the conference rooms for meetings. In accordance with current guidelines, group meetings are not allowed  indoors nor the back patio.  You can still eat lunch outside by yourself or in a conference room. Please put your mask back on after you’ve finished eating. 
  • Social distancing and face mask requirements remain unchanged and highly effective.  It remains as important as ever to be vigilant about PPE. All people entering the building must sterilize hands, scan their OASIS QR code and undergo a thermal scan. 
  • In line with the CDC and the state of California, we strongly advise against travel during the holiday season. All employees returning from travel (regionally, nationally or internationally) have to self-quarantine for 4 days and THEN screen negative for COVID-19 before they can return to work. Screening less than 4 days from possible exposure may miss an early infection.
  • IMPORTANT: All employees attending gatherings (including holiday dinners) with non-household members also have to quarantine for 4 days and THEN screen negative for COVID-19 before they can return to work. Please discuss your holiday plans with your supervisor.

All other operational guidelines remain unchanged. Please email with any questions. 

It has been a long and difficult road and we fully understand that the new rules may require difficult trade-offs, especially during the holidays. Our most important goal is to protect the health and safety of you and your loved ones and we trust that we can continue to count on you to look out for each other, at home and here at LJI.  We have done very well so far with limited cases.  Let’s keep up the great work, continue to comply with state orders, and look forward to vaccines as they become available.

Scientific Cores:

You can find specific information for each core below:

Please email if you have any questions or concerns.


All employees who can effectively work from home should continue to work from home. Your department head/PI will discuss your specific situation with you. Our goal is to minimize the number of people in the building at any given time to allow for social distancing.

Everybody is required to wear a face mask at all times, including while traveling into or out of LJI. (The only exception to the face mask requirement are private offices.).

Masks or respirators that are required for use with research studies to protect against exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or other pathogens, must not be worn when accessing non-lab areas or LJI. Such use must be detailed in your IBC protocol or discussed with EH&S.

Starting on May 11, face masks will be available near the front reception desk for pick-up upon entry to the building. Mask supplies are limited and each person should take only 2 masks initially for repeated use with disinfection.

You can reuse your face mask for several weeks with proper care. Hanging in sunlight can help to dry and the UV can help eliminate some bacteria. You can use the UV light box in the vivarium elevator landing area to sanitize your mask. Place mask inside and turn on UV machine for 5 minutes. Cloth face masks, homemade or purchased, are also acceptable and should be laundered regularly.

Personnel may wear gloves in non-lab areas. Use of gloves for non-lab use is designed to protect the user from coming into skin contact with potential surface contamination and also discourages person from touching their face. Use of gloves does not mean you are preventing spread of germs. Wearing the same gloves from task-to-task can increase cross contamination. Gloves, like hands, can harbor pathogens and contribute to spread from surface to surface.

Mild fever is an early sign of COVID-19 that might go unnoticed by individuals and regular checks will benefit you and everybody around you.

LJI is not restricting employees from using mass transit at this time. Any person using the trolley or bus system should practice general cold and flu / COVID-19 guidelines to minimize potential for infection. All San Diego MTS vehicles are cleaned throughout the day in addition to a nightly all exposed surfaces disinfection process. Passengers are required to wear face coverings and similar to LJI policy should not be boarding mass transit if ill. Passengers should wash or sanitize hands frequently and avoid touching their eyes, mouth or nose. Maintain a 6 foot distance while on board if possible.

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can be very stressful and may provoke heightened feelings of anxiety. The Institute provides confidential counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at no cost to you. You can access EAP either by phone (800.227.1060) or online @ You can find the login information on the intranet.

Please notify the Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Regina (Gina) Kirchweger, if you have been contacted by the press. Gina will be able to advise you and help you prepare for interviews and ensure that correct and complete information is being shared with the media.