Weekly public health update: March 30, 2021
Dear OHIO community members,
For three consecutive weeks, Ohio’s average COVID-19 case rate was dropping. But last week it ticked back up, and last Thursday Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio’s daily reported cases stopped dropping. Similarly, cases have plateaued or slightly increased on OHIO campuses. This is a reminder that masks and social distancing remain vital until enough people are vaccinated.
Yesterday, the governor discussed the importance of college students getting vaccinated against COVID-19 before departing campuses for the summer, explaining that students often don’t fear the virus but traditionally are some of its biggest spreaders. He has been meeting with Ohio’s college and university presidents, including President Nellis, to gain an understanding of the challenges involved with getting students through two rounds of vaccination appointments before the summer break, He indicated that he will soon make an announcement regarding vaccines for college students, and I am thankful for his attention to campus communities.
Protocols for fully vaccinated individuals
We know that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting us from getting sick. People who have been fully vaccinated (one week after their final dose) can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. Another great reason to get the vaccine!
We’re still learning how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that vaccinated individuals keep taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Details about OHIO protocols for vaccinated individuals are available online. Here are some highlights:
- Testing: Even if you’re fully vaccinated, if you are a student participating in any in-person campus activities you must follow the same asymptomatic testing schedule you had before your vaccine.
- Quarantine and isolation: If you’re fully vaccinated, you are exempt from quarantine due to exposure for 90 days post vaccine (without symptoms). If at any point you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate.
- Masks and distance: We expect everyone who gathers in public to wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart, even if they are fully vaccinated.
- Gatherings: There are new CDC guidelines for gatherings that include vaccinated people. Use these recommendations when planning to get together with others. This detailed information can help you determine which precautions are advised for various types of gatherings -- all of which should include no more than 10 people.
If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, please register your vaccination. The University is tracking our progress toward herd immunity on our campuses and your input will inform our decisions about resuming normal operations.
Testing Incentive Program: Perkins Hall leading the pack
Our Testing Incentive Program is in full swing. COVID Operations announces weekly and monthly prize winners on social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook), and commemorative stickers are available to regular testers at the Athens Vault Health testing location. After a steady strong showing by Washington Hall, Perkins Hall has moved to the front of the pack in the residence hall compliance competition, with 84 percent compliance. The hall that finishes out the semester with the best compliance will win $500 toward a special gift for all residents of that hall.
OHIO students on all campuses who complete required asymptomatic tests are eligible for the Testing Incentive Program. At the end of April we will have a drawing for our grand prizes: two iPad minis and a Macbook Pro. The more you test, the better your odds of winning.
Everyone in Ohio 16+ is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine
I’m excited that all Ohioans age 16 and older are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, and I’m impressed by the number of students who are scheduling vaccine appointments. I encourage all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Just think of the difference it would make for fall semester if we all return to campus vaccinated!
You can browse vaccine providers and book an appointment in your area through the state’s online portal. Appointments fill up quickly so check back often – new slots are added regularly.
Remember that you must complete your vaccine series at the same location you begin. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require a second dose, so look at your calendar when scheduling your appointment/s so that you are sure to be in town when it is time for your second dose if you need one. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose vaccine, which makes it an excellent option for college students or anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of a second appointment. Though the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not always readily available, we hope its supply will increase soon.
All three vaccines offer excellent protection against COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one currently approved for 16-to-18-year-olds. Though any of these vaccines may cause some side effects, the health risks of COVID are much greater.
Looking forward to a safe graduation and beyond
As we look forward to upcoming graduation ceremonies and a summer that we hope is more normal than last year, let’s keep in mind the successful efforts of OHIO students who have helped us make it over a month with an average positivity rate of one percent or lower, and the efforts of our residential housing students and others who are keeping spread to a minimum. Continuing precautions a little longer and getting vaccinated as soon as possible will keep these trends going in the right direction and allow us to look forward to a much more connected fall.
Dr. Gillian Ice
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations