I am reaching out to share with you an update of where we are with managing COVID-19 on our campus. Every day, our teams at the University Health Center and the Occupational Health Office are working to keep you healthy, keep classes and offices safe and keep activities open for you to enjoy. In return, you all are doing a really good job helping us with these efforts, thank you!
The weekly dashboard shows a declining case count after an initial spike when everyone came back to campus. I know that students were so excited to be reunited with friends and make new ones along the way! The data from the University also indicates that almost 92% of students and 93% employees are fully vaccinated which has contributed to a very safe campus environment. However, the Delta variant is a concern and we must remain vigilant. Although the COVID-19 vaccine prevents severe illness and death, it is not 100% effective and COVID-19 infection can still occur.
While the cases are steady and reflect the improving trends in New Jersey, what I am seeing is a large increase in the number of students and employees reporting congestion, runny nose, sore throat and cough. What this means is that you are being exposed to the viruses that cause the common cold and the flu, perhaps because the masks are not being worn consistently. Unfortunately, even with vaccination we must make sure you don’t have COVID-19 so you are placed in isolation until we get your negative COVID-19 test results. So, I urge you to continue wearing your masks, especially when you are in large groups, even if you are vaccinated. We wear our masks to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and those who cannot be vaccinated. Flu vaccines will be available on campus, if you haven’t received one, this is a good time to protect yourself. Please continue to do your part.
Be Extra Careful in Large Groups
Lastly, in a few weeks you will enjoy a long-awaited Thanksgiving holiday and gather with friends and family, some whom you have not seen for a long time. Bringing together different households and different groups of friends can increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19. You may not know the status of others who you will socialize with. In addition, you may travel to areas with higher rates of COVID-19 infection. Please continue to observe the recommended precautions such as wearing your mask when you socialize and gather outdoors when possible. More detailed holiday guidance will be provided in a few weeks.
I am truly grateful for all that you each are doing to contribute to the campus safety. Classrooms remain safe for learning and we have diverse activities, sporting events, entertainment and opportunities to be together. Please keep it up, it is working. We will get through this together and we will be stronger.
Patricia Ruiz, APN, DNP
Director – University Health Center