UMass Center for Public Health Promotion COVID-19 Update: February 17

Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) co-directors Ann Becker and Jeffrey Hescock have emailed the campus community with updates on the university’s COVID-19 positivity rate, to announce the continuation of the indoor masking policy on campus and with clinical vaccine information.

This email is as follows:

Dear campus community,

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in our community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary screening program as well as sewage monitoring. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community from February 9-15 shows 456 new positive cases. The university’s cumulative positivity rate is 7.38%, up from 7.76% last week. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 2.90%.

Those who test positive continue to report that they have minimal to moderate symptoms of infection, and there are no hospitalizations to report. The cases mainly concern undergraduate students linked to unmasked social activities. We recognize that we remain above regional and state positivity rates, but are encouraged by the slight drop in positivity this week. Although tracking the number of cases in a highly vaccinated population has become less important for assessing campus health, it remains a valuable metric.

Throughout the pandemic, we have made our decisions based on federal and state guidelines as well as local conditions and the unique aspects of community living on a large residential campus. We are monitoring the evolution of mask-wearing guidelines and will incorporate them into our assessment of specific situations on our campus and local community. Based on current conditions, our inner mask requirement remains in effect.

In the meantime, we must continue to do what is necessary to protect our community. The UMass community is invited to come to the Campus Center Public Health Promotion Center to pick up KN95 masks and test kits each week, as we have a sufficient supply.

We also continue to hold COVID-19 vaccination clinics two days a week. Vaccination clinics are offered Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until March 10. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to make an appointment.

Please continue to monitor yourself daily for symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to campus. If you don’t feel well, stay home and get tested. UHS offers symptomatic testing for students, or if you have an unobserved test kit, you can drop it off at one of the campus kiosks.

Thank you for all you do to take care of yourself and each other, and to support the health of our community.

Truly,

Co-Directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC)

Ann Becker, Director of Public Health
Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environment, Health and Safety

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