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Weekly COVID Newsletter

Posted in: COVID Information, Weekly COVID Newsletter

Weekly Covid Newsletter

Cases on Campus

The University Health Center logged 63 new cases of COVID-19 on the campus during the week ending Dec. 16 (50 students, 7 employees and 6 contractors). Most have only mild symptoms. One required hospitalization but has been discharged and is home recovering, according to Patricia Ruiz, director of the University Health Center.

Campus cases are up again this week paralleling an increase in cases in our region. Public health experts think that the recent surge is the result of people gathering indoors now that the weather is cold. Increased socializing during the holidays is also a factor.

“People seem to appreciate the risks involved with large events, but we also need to think about smaller get-togethers with friends and extended family,” Ruiz says. “With many families planning Christmas and New Years celebrations, it’s especially important for us all to get tested frequently. Along with booster shots, frequent testing is one of the best tools we have. You should get tested before you gather and again afterwards. Frequent testing and vaccination are our best tools right now.”

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention advises using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household. A positive self-test result means that you have an infection and should avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else.

Add Testing to Your Holiday To-Do List

One of the best ways to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is to get tested, says University Health Center Director Patricia Ruiz. “Vaccinated people can be infected and not know it, and they could be able to spread the virus to others – even those who are also vaccinated.”

All employees and students can get tested for free on campus until December 23. The University’s free COVID testing center in Webster Hall has convenient testing hours, including Sundays and evenings. No appointment is necessary, but please create a free account with our lab, Visit Healthcare, before you come, and bring your Montclair State ID, insurance card and smartphone with you to the testing center. And remember, there’s never any cost to you. If you are insured, your health insurance will cover it. If you are uninsured, federal pandemic relief funding obtained by the University covers the cost.

For more holiday travel tips, take a look at the New Jersey Department of Health’s COVID-19 traveler’s health website for the latest guidance. Enjoy the time with friends and family, and please, stay safe out there!

How to Get Your Booster Shot

Public health authorities strongly recommend that everyone 18 and over who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 obtain an additional dose, called a “booster shot.” Research indicates that the extra dose helps boost the body’s ability to fight off the virus – and according to preliminary, non-peer-reviewed findings, it may also provide additional protection against the Omicron variant.

You can choose any of the three vaccines for your booster shot. Visit the State of New Jersey COVID Information website for details.

Prescriptions are not required, and there’s no cost to you. Appointments can be made at many pharmacies and county-sponsored vaccination sites. Remember, Essex County will vaccinate any Montclair State University employee or student, regardless of whether you live in the county. Make an appointment online on the Essex COVID website or by phone at 973-877-8456.

Get Your Flu Shot

Help keep yourself, your family, your co-workers and our students safe from influenza by getting vaccinated. Most doctor’s offices and pharmacies are offering them, and most health insurance plans cover the full cost. Enter your zip code in the CDC’s Flu Shot Finder for a list of locations near you. Health experts say do it soon, so that you’ve got time to build immunity before holiday travel and family gatherings.

Remember to Hawk Check!

It’s important to complete the Hawk Check self-screening application consistently and report even mild symptoms. Complete Hawk Check every day, Monday through Friday, and do it on any weekends or holidays on which you plan to come to campus. If you live on campus, do it every day. If Hawk Check gives you the thumbs up, come to campus. If it tells you not to come, then please stay home and wait for a phone call from Occupational Health or the University Health Center.

Why? Hawk Check is one of the most important ways that our health-care providers find out about potential cases. Reporting risks and symptoms accurately – and promptly – gives them a head start on helping keep the virus under control. Many thanks to thousands of Red Hawks who are doing Hawk Check every day.

For More Information

For the most up-to-date information about Montclair State’s recovery from the pandemic, please visit the University’s COVID-19 information website, or send an email to or

Thank you for reading this edition of the Weekly COVID Newsletter, a production of the Office of University Communications and Marketing. Comments and suggestions may be sent to Vice President Joseph Brennan,