COVID-19, monkeypox and staying healthy this fall
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The following post covers:
- Fall plans for COVID-19 and MPV
- What you can do to stay healthy
As we approach the fall semester, the university continues to focus on providing support to enhance the public health of our campus community while maintaining instruction, programs, and services. This includes offering, at no cost, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines that protect against serious illness and hospitalization, the availability of high-efficiency masks, and access to COVID-19 antigen and PCR testing.
While there are no COVID-19 specific requirements for mask use, testing or vaccination, everyone on campus is strongly encouraged to use these tools as needed to limit the spread of the virus. Given that some people remain at higher risk from COVID-19, including those who are older or immunocompromised, we continue to encourage our campus community to stay up to date with vaccination and to take other steps as needed out of respect for one another. New treatments are also available, in consultation with health care providers, for people at higher risk from COVID-19.
We recognize the concerns and frustrations many feel related to the cycle of COVID infection and surges throughout the pandemic, as cases rise and fall, and new variants regularly appear that vary in transmissibility. Our current approach is validated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we will continue to consult with public health experts and closely monitor conditions in our community, as the university has done throughout the pandemic. Though we are unable to predict what may come, we will keep campus up to date on the steps that should be taken to reduce the impact of COVID-19.
What is the university doing?
Campus will continue to offer the following:
- On-campus nasal swab PCR testing and at-home antigen test kits at no charge for all students, faculty and staff. More details about testing, including test site hours and location, can be found on the COVID Response website.
- One at-home antigen test is available to all students and employees each week. No appointment is required; all you need is your Wiscard.
- You will need an appointment for a PCR test. Schedule at myUHS. You are encouraged to first use an at-home antigen test and only seek PCR testing if needed.
- On-campus PCR testing will not be available the week of August 15 through 19. Public Health Madison & Dane County maintains community testing site information on their website. Antigen tests can still be picked up on campus during that week. Campus PCR testing will resume on Monday, August 22nd.
- Due to changes in lab testing, most PCR testing results this fall will be returned within 48 hours. However, it could take up to 72 hours to receive results.
- Contact tracing for positive PCR tests taken on campus.
- UHS will also incorporate a contact tracing questionnaire. If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test and receive the questionnaire in myUHS, complete it as soon as possible to help the contact tracing team determine whether you need a phone call. You will also be given the option to request a phone call.
- High-efficiency masks are available at no cost for all students and employees at the campus testing site at 333 E. Campus Mall. Departments may also order masks for employees through ShopUW.
- A limited number of temporary spaces for students living in university housing who test positive for COVID-19. Students have the option to use those spaces, stay off campus, or isolate in their room. Students in Housing have already been provided information on how to access their options.
What can you do to stay healthy and keep others healthy?
The virus that causes COVID-19 will continue to be present moving forward. Here are ways to increase the chances you stay healthy while limiting the spread of the virus:
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date with boosters. Unvaccinated people are at higher risk for severe outcomes. Getting all recommended vaccine doses will help reduce this risk. UHS is offering Pfizer vaccines at no cost to all students and employees. To schedule an appointment, visit myUHS.
- To help campus monitor vaccine participation, share your vaccine records if you were vaccinated off campus and have not already authorized University Health Service to access them on your behalf. Visit myUHS to update your information.
- Consider wearing a mask in situations where you’re more likely to come into contact with the virus, such as crowded indoor spaces like airports, public transit, and concert venues.
- Students are encouraged to test before moving into their residence hall (for students in Housing) and before the first day of class.
- Plan ahead by having antigen tests available so that you can test if you become sick.
- Learn what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, including how long you should wear a mask around others and when you should take a test. If you develop symptoms after exposure, isolate and test immediately.
- If you are sick, stay home and get tested.
- If you test positive, isolate for at least 5 full days (the day you test positive or develop symptoms is day 0) AND until you have been at least 24 hours without fever and your symptoms are improving.
- Some people may need to isolate longer, including those with shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and people with weakened immune systems. Consult the CDC for additional guidance.
- You should wear a mask through day 10 any time you’re around other people. You may remove your mask sooner than day 10 if you are fever-free, your symptoms have improved, and two sequential antigen tests taken 48 hours apart, after your first positive test, are negative.
- For students, in-person and telehealth appointments are available through myUHS. Employees should contact their health care provider as needed.
For ongoing information and updates about COVID-19 on campus, visit covidresponse.wisc.edu.
Monkeypox Virus (MPV)
Monkeypox Virus (MPV) has become a global concern over the past few weeks. UW–Madison is working with state and local public health officials to monitor the virus and its spread, as well as rates of illness in the community. At this time, MPV does not pose a high risk to our campus, but the university will adjust its MPV response and prevention strategies if conditions change and as more information becomes available.
For more information, including symptoms of MPV and who is currently eligible for vaccination, visit the UHS MPV page.