Isolation/quarantine overview, vaccine update and more
The following message was shared with the Ohio University community on February 16, 2021:
Dear OHIO community members,
We begin Week Five with fewer restrictions in Ohio – the governor has lifted the curfew and even restaurant buffets are open again. As our opportunities to interact with one another increase, we must not let our guard down. It is good that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to trend downward, but, for reference, the CDC reports that daily numbers of new cases and deaths are still much higher than the first two peaks of the pandemic last spring and summer. It's also important to note that counties and states do not experience uniform rates of decline.
Ohio county alert levels remained the same for this past week. The Ohio Department of Health reported today that Athens County has the second highest occurrence of COVID-19 cases in the state (491.4 cases per 100,000 people); most of those cases come from our OHIO community. Muskingum County, home to OHIO’s Zanesville Campus, has the sixth highest occurrence of cases (407.1 per 100,000 people). In the last 24 hours, all counties with an OHIO campus had an increase in the number of new cases compared to the previous day, except Lawrence and Fairfield. Thankfully, we still have a small number of student and employee cases on our regional campuses.
As we have more opportunities to interact with people even as virus variants emerge, it is more important than ever that we all wear well-fitting masks, stay at least six feet apart from people we don’t live with, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash our hands often.
Isolation, quarantine, and remain-in-room guidelines
We have heard questions from OHIO community members about isolation and quarantine, and about our Remain-in-Room plan for residential students. Here is an overview of these scenarios, with links to information about each.
- This reference guide describes when someone should isolate or quarantine and describes the important differences.
- Ohio University provides quarantine and isolation housing for residential students, as well as support from COVID Campus Liaisons (CCLs).
- Off-campus students and employees also receive support from CCLs throughout isolation or quarantine and can find guidance from the Athens City-County Health Department on how to isolate or quarantine in the reference guide.
- Whereas isolation and quarantine occur under the direction of the county health commissioner, the Remain-in-Room plan is a precaution the University will take to control spread in the case of an outbreak in a residence hall or on a residential floor. If 10 percent or more of the residents in a hall have tested positive over the last seven days, we will implement a RIR plan. This page describes OHIO’s Housing Alert System and the RIR plan.
- Some expectations change for students who are following quarantine, isolation or RIR plans. This chart describes requirements and allowances for students in quarantine, isolation or RIR.
Any OHIO student, faculty or staff member who is in isolation or quarantine, or who is preparing to be moved to or from isolation or quarantine, can contact our COVID Campus Liaisons if they have questions, run into complications, or need support. CCLs are available by phone (740-566-8445) and email (COVIDoperations@ohio.edu) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.
A vaccine milestone
According to the CDC, the United States met a milestone last week: over 10 percent of the population has been vaccinated. This week, Ohioans with certain conditions will be able to begin receiving the vaccine. Although this group is now eligible, most health departments are still trying to complete vaccines for the 65-and-over age group.
In his press conference today, Gov. DeWine explained that winter weather has delayed vaccine shipments, which will affect some vaccination clinics around the state. He also announced that Ohio will soon launch a central vaccine scheduling system. The state is in the process of registering providers and will then make the site available to Ohioans wishing to be vaccinated.
OHIO continues to collaborate with its campus communities on their efforts to vaccinate residents. In addition to the Athens campus hosting the Athens City-County Health Department’s vaccination clinics at Heritage Hall and the Southern Campus providing nursing student and faculty volunteers at the Lawrence County Health Department’s vaccine clinics, Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology has partnered with the Greene County Health Department to host that county’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Beavercreek. I am grateful that the work of so many is connecting OHIO to our local communities during this difficult time.
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in cases and exposure due the recent Super Bowl parties. Sheltering from both the virus and the winter weather makes it even more important that we encourage each other to make safe choices and that we don’t allow friends to take risks with our health. Cooperation and shared responsibility are the way out of this!
I know that conversations about COVID-19 safety measures aren’t always easy, whether with friends, family or strangers. Even so, I've found that talking about these issues with friends, family and colleagues often helps everyone feel less anxious. I think it’s especially helpful when these conversations aren’t about saying “no” to activities, but instead are about how to get to “yes” by agreeing to make activities as safe as possible. We can make healthy decisions while still making friends and memories. Our creativity, cooperation, and collaboration will get us through these last frigid weeks of the COVID winter and into a much brighter spring.
Dr. Gillian Ice
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations