Health and Wellness Update: Feb. 28, 2022

Published:
February 28, 2022

CDC Updates on Masking

The CDC released updated guidelines on masking on Friday, Feb. 25.

The CDC has revised guidelines on when and where masks should be worn as they shift away from utilizing case counts as a primary risk indicator to instead utilizing COVID-19 Community Levels which focus on severe health outcomes, hospitalization rates and hospital capacity data. By these measures, Poweshiek County has a “medium” indicator. The College continues to look to the CDC as one of many trusted sources for guidance and is assessing how the new guidelines apply in the context of our campus and how they may impact our most vulnerable campus community members. Our current indoor mask policy remains in place as we consult with our University of Iowa Health Care team and other campus planning partners. Our updated campus policy will be announced on Friday, March 4.

On-Campus COVID-19 Updates

Number of
positive cases
from 2/20–2/26
Total number of
on-campus
positive cases
since Jan. 1, 2022
Self-reported
positive tests
while away
from Grinnell
from Jan. 1, 2022
Number of
students
in isolation*
or quarantine**

4

73

80

1

These numbers are up-to-date as of 9 a.m. 2/28/22. The dashboard numbers may be delayed by a few hours.

*Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

**Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

COVID Anxiety

SHAW continues to see anxiety among students related to COVID-19. While COVID-19 does still carry a risk that should be taken seriously, we hope the information below helps ease some of the fear around a positive COVID-19 test result.

Grinnell College students have had zero hospitalizations related to COVID-19. All positive cases continue to be mild or asymptomatic (22% report no symptoms). The total COVID-19 positive test rate since January 1 is 4% compared to strep throat (Group A strep pharyngitis) which has a 33% positive test rate.

Terms to know

  • Breakthrough Infection: when a COVID-19 vaccinated person becomes infected with COVID-19
  • Viral Load: the amount of virus that can be detected in an infected person

While breakthrough infections do happen, data continues to show that those cases have a lower risk of severe disease. There are always other factors that affect severity, like underlying medical conditions. However the vaccine does lower the risk of (complications) if infected.

Vaccinated individuals carry a lower viral load and for a shorter period of time. Studies show that transmission occurs early in the course of infection with infectiousness peaking around one day before symptom onset. The CDC updated the isolation guidelines to 5 days to focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for 5 days.

COVID Resources

Need to Talk?

  • SHAW offers a 24/7 counseling hotline for Grinnell College students to have immediate access to counseling services. Call 641-269-4404.
  • Counseling services are available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (Employee and Family Resources) for faculty and staff by phone at 800-327-4692 or TTY: 877-542-6488.

To your health,

Terry W. Mason, Ph.D.
Dean for Health and Wellness

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