Ohio University

Search within:

Public health update: Sept. 28, 2021

Published: September 28, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Dear OHIO community members,

Recently President Sherman re-emphasized OHIO’s commitment to in-person learning. Indeed, our campus COVID trends are promising: case counts are going down and vaccine rates are going up. Together we can be proud that our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 are working: 

  • Our positivity rates have consistently trended downward across the semester, from a high of 8 percent among on-campus students on Sept. 4 to the current 2.5 percent.
  • Vaccination rates continue to climb on all campuses – overall OHIO has a 67 percent vaccination rate; in Athens 73.9 percent of the campus is vaccinated.
  • COVID Operations’ call volume and current caseload, though still higher than at any point last year, is starting to decline.

The state and county rates also are starting to decline, though community transmission continues to be high in all counties with an OHIO campus. County and state hospitalization rates continue to be high and in some areas are increasing, which is expected given the lag between infection and hospitalization. We can all help drive down hospitalization rates by getting vaccinated, continuing to mask indoors, and avoiding large crowds. 

Ohio University’s commitment to important public health measures helps us reduce risk as we enjoy in-person experiences. Thank you, students, faculty, and staff for wearing masks indoors, getting vaccinated, and participating in asymptomatic testing. Your efforts are paying off!

Responding to concerns about campus activity

I’m often asked if the current Delta surge will cause us to have to scale back in-person activity on our campuses. My answer has consistently been “No,” because it would not likely reduce risk for our campus communities at this stage of the pandemic.  

Last year, we didn’t have a vaccine, and our COVID testing capacity was not yet scaled up. Now, with public health measures in place on our campuses, and increasing vaccination rates, we can provide a robust in-person learning environment while keeping our campuses safe. Here are some of the facts I share with those concerned about the increased activity on our campuses:

  1. Keeping students in their hometowns would not protect them from risk: our entire state is experiencing high transmission. Students’ risk may even be increased at home, since learning on campus includes basic public health measures like masking, distancing, and regular testing of unvaccinated individuals, which may not be enforced elsewhere.
  2. The greatest risks to faculty and staff are not presented by interactions with students on campus, but in their private lives. An internal review of faculty and staff exposures showed that most were occurring in private interactions rather than in the classroom.
  3. Our classrooms provide a relatively safe learning environment. Online learning provides less structure and more time for individuals to have freedom to move around and spread the virus. 
  4. Last year, students accounted for most cases in Athens County; now community cases are driving the rates in Athens. On our regional campuses, students have never been drivers of community rates.   

We know that the nationwide move to online learning environments last year came at a great sacrifice to students, parents, staff, and faculty. I am confident that last year’s approach saved lives and gave us the time to build the public health tools that are now allowing us to learn together safely. I am so grateful to share the good news about the effectiveness of our public health approach. Because we all have worked together to  reduce the spread of COVID, we can continue to live, learn, and build Ohio University memories together. Keep up the good work.

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

Resources from COVID Operations

Help COVID Operations help you

  • Parents: If you contact us about your student, be sure to include their full name and PID or OHIO email address. We receive many emails from concerned parents that we can’t quickly respond to because we don’t have that key information.  
  • Students: If you send us documentation of test results or other critical information about yourself, be sure to use your OHIO email address and explain why you are providing the information. Response times are slower when we don’t have context for the information you submit. 

Test before and after travel
If you plan to travel this weekend, testing before and after travel will stop you from unknowingly spreading the virus. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to schedule a test through Vault Health

How to get a replacement vaccine card
If you have misplaced your vaccine card or otherwise need a replacement, contact your original vaccine provider. If they can't help you, contact the health department for the county in which you received your vaccine. 

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

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.