|Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:
As we all settle into our routines and the change of seasons, it is heartening to see so many in our community working so hard to keep themselves and everyone around them safe. That hard work is yielding encouraging results in all the critical metrics the Public Health Team monitors and assesses daily. For the time being, our public health guidance remains the same. Should any change be made to our COVID Level, we will communicate it broadly to our community.
Moving forward, I will begin each message with an update on these three critical metrics.
1. Active Cases: We continue to experience a positive trend with regard to total active cases on campus. As of today, we have 68 active cases, the vast majority among vaccinated students. That is significantly lower than the peak we experienced earlier this semester of 163.
2. Random Surveillance Program Testing Positivity Rate: The positivity rate among those participating in mandatory surveillance testing is trending downward this week. With one day remaining in this week’s reporting period, the positivity rate is currently just under 0.5%. That is a 50% decline in positivity as compared to last week. We are hopeful and cautiously optimistic that this trend will continue.
3. Testing Rate: We have seen a sharp increase in the number of tests we’re performing per day. As of today, we are averaging more than 1,000 tests per day on campus. This does not include individuals who are testing through other means, like at urgent care clinics. This is another positive sign. I can’t stress enough the importance of participating in the surveillance program when you are assigned to do so. This data helps us identify potential trends and clusters and allows us to work quickly to contain further transmission.
We will continue to track and make public health decisions based on this data, and other important trends and guidance from local, state and federal public health officials. In the meantime, today I will provide updates on:
· Pfizer Booster Shots
· Dashboard Changes
· Frequently Asked Questions
Pfizer Booster Shots: This week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized several groups who have received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to get a booster shot. Last night, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added more groups to the eligibility list. We expect to learn more about the booster shot plan from the White House later today. We will update our community when we know more.
Changes to the Dashboard: The COVID-19 Dashboard has been updated to incorporate two new metrics. First, the positivity rate from the prior week’s random surveillance testing is now displayed and will be updated each Tuesday. In addition, the daily tests administered are now reported on the top bar graph of the dashboard, just above the daily cases. These updates will better allow our community to understand the current public health conditions on our campus.
Frequently Asked Questions: The frequently asked questions section of the Stay Safe website was updated again this week to address some common questions and concerns. We will continue to update frequently asked questions and alert our community via this message when we have done so.
Thank you for your continued attention and commitment to our collective public health. Our community continues to prove—time and time again—that simple, selfless acts are key to protecting the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and neighbors. Please continue to mask up, monitor your health and test.
Have a great weekend. It’s looking to be a great one!
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation