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Public health update: Aug. 31, 2021

Published: August 31, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Dear OHIO community members,

We are excited to have so many students back in the classroom again, enjoying campus life for the first time in a while. However, the return to our campus communities has also predictably resulted in an increase of COVID-19 cases, many of which are symptomatic.

President Sherman’s announcement today that all OHIO students, faculty, and staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 15 is a critical step in putting an end to the disruption this virus has caused to our lives and our campuses. Having all students and employees vaccinated against COVID-19 will protect OHIO’s strong commitment to rich academic experiences and vibrant campus life.

Vaccinations are by far the best long-term strategy for moving us past the critical stage we are in now, with case counts increasing, hospitals filling up, and students already missing class because of illness. In the short term, a layered public health approach will help us manage disease outbreaks. The current surge is so profound that even with the increasing level of vaccinated individuals the vaccine requirement will bring, we will still need to continue with indoor masking for everyone until we reduce transmission. 

Case rates on OHIO campuses

Positive cases are accelerating to a concerning level on our campuses and in our communities, including a growing number of symptomatic positive cases on all campuses. We are no doubt feeling the effects of the more contagious Delta variant.

Every day, we receive reports of COVID-positive individuals in classrooms. I share this not to scare people but to explain that we need to do everything in our power to stem the tide of this virus that threatens the campus experience that we all want. The vaccine requirement is a long-term solution. In the here and now, we also need everyone to follow all the prevention measures – wear a mask, keep your distance, test frequently, wash your hands, use respiratory hygiene, do not come to campus if you are symptomatic, and please avoid large crowds. The combination of vaccination plus these short-term measures will allow us to get this under control.  You can monitor case rates on the OHIO COVID-19 Dashboard

Vaccine opportunities and incentives for students and employees

We are already off to a promising start with vaccination rates on the Athens campus, with more than 75 percent of residential housing students fully vaccinated, and almost 62 percent of off-campus students fully vaccinated. Our combined total for students and employees on the Athens campus approaches 69 percent.

The regional campuses have a long way to go, with percentages of students and employees who are fully vaccinated ranging from only the mid-twenties to the low thirties. You can track vaccination rates on all campuses on the OHIO COVID-19 Dashboard.

There is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccines, and they are easy to get either by appointment or at a walk-in clinic.   

  • OHIO will host a mass vaccination clinic this Friday at Heritage Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in partnership with the Athens City-County Health Department. To register for Friday’s clinic, visit gettheshot.ohio.gov, use Access Code B4P8PAQMNO, search for ZIP code 45701, and you will see the appointment slots available at Heritage Hall on Friday.
  • Additional clinics are available on the Athens campus and many of the regional campuses.
  • Schedule a vaccine anywhere in Ohio online or by phone (1-833-427-5634). 

Stay tuned for details on a new vaccine incentive program for students, faculty, and staff. Highlights include:  

  • $100 per newly vaccinated employee. 
  • Drawings for students to win cash. 
  • Contributions to selected charities for sororities and fraternities that achieve 90 percent vaccination. 
  • Prizes for residence halls that achieve 95 percent vaccination. 

If you already are vaccinated, thank you. The health of every Bobcat is essential to the health of our University. Only together can we fight this virus. 

Dr. Gillian Ice
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations

Resources from COVID Operations

Get details about OHIO’s vaccination requirement
Find deadlines, frequently asked questions, and more.

Suggestions for hosting a COVID-safe event
Follow these recommendations to avoid spreading COVID-19 at events. 

COVID Operations hosting open office hours
Faculty and staff: Drop in and ask questions about managing your areas on campus. 

What to do if you test positive, have symptoms, or are exposed to COVID-19
Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19, experience symptoms, or are exposed to a COVID-positive person should follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol.

Testing vaccinated individuals for breakthrough infection
Last week we began inviting fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff to participate in asymptomatic surveillance testing to monitor breakthrough infection.

Visit Be Safe Bobcats for COVID-19 information
If you are looking for information on anything COVID-19 at OHIO, visit Be Safe Bobcats, the University’s online resource for OHIO students, faculty and staff.

Get a vaccine on campus or beyond 
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect yourself, and the best way to protect our Bobcat community.