We have so far this semester fared exceptionally well in preventing COVID-19 infections among our students and employees. Indoor masking, contact tracing, high immunization rates, and compliance with quarantining and isolation have worked and allowed us to have an in-person semester.
However, positivity rates and cases are rising on campus and in Lebanon County as people gather indoors more often during the colder weather and the efficacy of the vaccine has been found to decrease over time. Our partners at Penn State Health have reported that hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated individuals, are “going in the wrong direction.” Even if your symptoms feel like a mild cold, you could be spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable people at risk of experiencing much worse symptoms.
There are just a few weeks to go. I urge you to:
Be aware of new symptoms. Colds, allergies, and sniffles are prevalent this time of year. Even mild cold-like symptoms or nausea could be a sign of COVID-19 infection. Students must fill out the symptom tracker any time they experience symptoms. This alerts health center staff to get in touch.
If you have any of these symptoms, isolate yourself, regardless of vaccination status. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider (employees) or Shroyer Health Center (students) at x.6232, 717-867-6232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
Also contact your healthcare provider or Shroyer if you experience more than one of the following symptoms:
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
Anyone who has a medical emergency should go to the ER or call 911. Students may call public safety for assistance at x.6111 or 717-867-6111.
Get your COVID-19 booster shot. Boosters are widely available to and recommended for anyone 18 and older who finished both shots of either Pfizer and Moderna six months ago or got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago. Vaccines and booster shots are critical even for those who have had COVID-19. Your immunity wanes 90 days after infection.
Get your flu shot. Flu season has already begun in our region. You can get flu and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters at the same time.
Stay vigilant about indoor masking. Masks are proven to reduce the number of droplets significantly, thus lessening the viral load and the risk of infection.
Be cautious over these holiday breaks. Mask up when gathering with people outside of your family unit. Avoid large gatherings, parties, bars, and clubs.
Rest up and enjoy your break so we can head into finals healthy and strong—together.