Employee update: Positive cases, testing and vaccine
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Update on positive cases
The past few days have seen an overall increase in the number of students testing coupled with a decline in the percentage of students testing positive, which is encouraging. Students in several residence halls with elevated case counts are continuing to test every other day to ensure that new cases can be detected quickly.
It remains critical for all members of our community to consistently follow public health requirements: test regularly; wear a two-layer (or greater), well-fitting face covering; avoid gatherings and clean hands frequently.
If you’re feeling fatigued by these requirements we’ve lived with for so long, that’s understandable – the good news is there are strategies that can help with that stress. Thank you for all you’re doing to keep your friends, family and community safe!
- Campus continues to set new records for testing with more than 11,600 tests on Monday alone. We want to recognize the great work by testing site and laboratory employees, many of whom are students. Please show your appreciation when you interact with them.
- It’s important to understand that any diagnostic test performed in populations with a low disease prevalence will yield some false positive results. The PCR test for COVID-19 is the most specific test available for infection, minimizing the number of false positives to the extent possible. This is true for both our saliva and nasal swab PCR tests, whose false positive rates are very low but not zero. We are currently reviewing all of the campus test data with an eye toward ensuring public health while minimizing the impact of false positive results. To stop the spread of COVID-19, you must treat a positive result seriously and isolate yourself; your close contacts also must quarantine.
- In response to feedback and site usage, the Kohl Center testing site will now be open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The 21 N. Park site will be closed Saturdays.
- Wait times can vary quite a bit depending on the time of day. Mornings generally have lower wait times – the wait can be longer near closing time and sites stop taking new patients 15 minutes prior to closing. When possible, go to an area of campus with multiple test sites so you can look for the green dot in the Safer Badgers app and choose a site with a shorter wait.
- Since early January, University Health Services has provided more than 8,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to members of the campus community. UHS is required to follow the eligibility guidelines provided by the federal government and the state of Wisconsin when vaccinating employees and students.
- Beginning March 1, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will make additional populations eligible for vaccination. However, in Wisconsin as in most of the rest of the U.S., vaccine supply remains limited and early on, there will be far more people eligible than there are vaccines to provide. Because of this limited supply, UHS, like other vaccinators in Wisconsin, will not be able to offer vaccine immediately to everyone newly eligible.
- UHS has offered vaccine appointments to all members of campus previously deemed eligible, which includes those serving direct patient care roles, those with direct exposure to the virus or virus samples, and to active members of campus age 65 and older. UHS has and will continue to offer vaccines to residents of Dane County who are not affiliated with the university but who meet the earlier eligibility criteria, including residents who are 65 or older.
- As vaccine supply increases, UHS plans to reach out to additional groups newly eligible, including preschool teachers and in-person instructional faculty, staff and teaching assistants. Appointment availability will be based on the amount of vaccine UHS receives from the state.
- Learn more by attending a forum on campus vaccination at noon Thursday, March 4.
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