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Weekly COVID Newsletter

Posted in: Weekly COVID Newsletter

Weekly Covid Newsletter

Cases on Campus

There have been 159 new cases of COVID-19 on the campus during the week ending Dec. 23, 157 during the week ending Dec. 30, and 163 in the past week. Visit the COVID-19 dashboard for a breakdown of cases by students, employees and contractors.

None of the infected people have needed to be hospitalized, according to Patricia Ruiz, director of the University Health Center.

“Clearly, the virus is out there,” Ruiz says. “If you have any symptoms or any exposures – even if you’re vaccinated, get a test. And if you work or socialize in a setting that brings you into contact with lots of people, like retail or health care, or you regularly congregate with people outside of your household, get tested regularly.

“We are seeing a lot of people who are surprised by a positive test result, because they had no symptoms or thought they had a cold. Don’t guess – get tested.”

Question of the Week: I was recently exposed to someone with COVID-19, but I don’t have any symptoms. Do I need to enter quarantine?

Not if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are 18 or older, being fully vaccinated means having all recommended doses, including booster shots, the CDC says. Children and adolescents have different guidelines. Learn more on the CDC’s website.

If you have not been fully vaccinated, or if you have symptoms, and you have close contact with someone who has COVID-19, isolate yourself from other people.

After a possible exposure, monitor yourself for symptoms, and get tested 5 to 7 days later, says University Health Center Director Patricia Ruiz. “COVID symptoms are very similar to those of the common cold or the flu, or even seasonal allergies,” she says. “Report any symptoms promptly on Hawk Check so that our health-care professionals can advise you on next steps.”

Please note that Hawk Check knows if you’ve been vaccinated, so it will give you the “Welcome to Campus” smiley face message if you report being exposed but not having any symptoms.

And when you get your booster shot, please upload a copy of your vaccination card in Vax Check.

Supporting Our Culture of Care

Behind University decisions regarding COVID-19 is the Campus Health Advisory Team, which monitors issues important to the overall health of the campus community and provides advice to the president and campus leaders relating to the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of students, faculty and staff. Learn more about this important team here.

Get Tested, Experts Say

The University strongly recommends that all members of the campus community get tested for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before returning to campus after the winter break, or as soon as possible after you return, and whenever you have symptoms or may have been exposed.

“Even with the latest wave of the pandemic surging, it is important for us all to remember that we have a lot of tools in our public health toolbox that can help to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. One of those tools is testing,” says Stephanie Silvera, professor of Public Health and an expert on COVID-19.

“Knowing your exposure status and whether or not you are infected with COVID-19 can help keep us all safe. Testing before you come back to campus after the break, and then following the current isolation guidelines and cooperating with contact tracers, can help keep transmission low and keep our community safer.”

All employees and students can be tested at no cost in the on-campus testing center in Webster Hall. The center’s hours are:

  • Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

While we prefer that employees use the Webster Hall site, if that’s not possible, you can also be tested off-campus before you come back. If you get a positive result, be sure to report it on Hawk Check.

Off-campus options include a new testing site in East Orange that offers free PCR tests for all New Jersey residents. Visit the East Orange Health Department’s website for details.

Essex County will test any Montclair State University employee or student at its vaccination centers in Livingston, Newark and West Orange. No appointment is necessary – and tests are free. Just bring your University ID card if you’re not an Essex County resident. For locations and hours, visit this web page.

In addition, a number of localities throughout the state are opening or expanding testing facilities for the public. Read this NJ.com article to learn more. New York residents can find testing sites at the state’s COVID-19 information website.

Please note that the Webster Hall testing center is only open to students and employees. In addition, members of the University community who have approved exemptions from vaccination for medical or religious reasons must continue to be tested at Webster Hall.

For more information about how to find testing sites or to have a home test kit shipped to you, visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s COVID-19 testing information website or call 211.

Booster Shots to be Given on Campus

Have you gotten your COVID-19 vaccine booster shot? If not, you should do so, because a booster dose helps your body fight off the virus if you get exposed to it and helps reduce the symptoms if you are infected. Remember, being fully vaccinated means being boosted!

To make it easier for members of the campus community to get their shots, the University is hosting a free clinic on campus on Thursday, January 20. Register now because space is limited.

The Essex County Health Department will be here between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to provide vaccinations, including boosters. Check-in at the Student Center Ballrooms, then head outside to the county’s vaccination van for your shot.

All employees and students, and any resident of Essex County can use the clinic. You’re eligible for a booster if it has been more than two months since your Johnson & Johnson vaccine, more than five months since your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine or more than six months since your second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Not yet vaccinated? You can receive your first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on January 20. Essex County will return on February 10 to provide your second dose.

“A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that although the COVID-19 vaccines work well, they can become less effective over time as the virus mutates,” says Janice Smolowitz, dean of the School of Nursing. “Booster doses have been shown to help increase protection against infection and severe symptoms. If you have questions, check with your health-care provider.”

If you cannot make it to the January 20 clinic, go to any of the Essex County vaccination sites, including the former Kmart in West Orange. The county will vaccinate all Montclair State University employees and students. You do not need to be a resident, and there’s no cost to you. Go here to make an appointment.

You can also visit Vaccines.gov or use the CDC’s “vaccine finder” service. Just send a text to 438829 with your zip code, and the nearest vaccine sites will show up.

Please remember to upload a copy of your vaccination card to Vax Check after you’ve received your booster shot.

Remember to Hawk Check!

Hawk Check is one of the most important ways that our health-care providers find out about potential cases. Reporting your risks and symptoms accurately – and promptly – gives them a head start on helping keep the virus under control.

Remember to complete the Hawk Check self-screening application consistently. Do it every workday, Monday through Friday, and on any weekends or holidays on which you plan to come to campus. If you live on campus, do it every day.

Please also complete Hawk Check if you get a positive test result – even on a day you’re not planning to come to the campus.

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 one of our health-care providers, who will advise you on next steps.

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 reopen@montclair.edu or coronavirus@montclair.edu.

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, brennanjos@montclair.edu.