Weekly COVID-19 Testing Clinic Update: Nov. 16

November 17, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

NOTICE:  Very Important!

The state of Iowa is at a public health crisis point. The number of COVID-19 cases is growing with no sign of slowing down. Our hospitals are reaching capacity and our amazing health care workers are nearing exhaustion.  Please read below for more information about EXPANDED TESTING FOR ALL FACULTY AND STAFF and other specific, effective actions we can all take to address this crisis.  

We are proud of the commitment our students, faculty, and staff are making every day to prevent transmission. We are heartened by the compassion and support that members of this community give each other. 

SHAW cares deeply about your health and the health of our community. To this end, I write each week to provide the latest update of our COVID-19 testing clinic and health information that we hope will help all of us mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Thank you for doing your part in keeping our community safe!

Testing Clinic Results for the Week of Nov.  9 - 13, 2020

Number of Unique
Students Tested
With Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
316 316 0 0% 0


Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
243 240 3 1.23% 0

Total Since Testing Began (Aug. 24, 2020)

Number of Unique
Students Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
386 381 5 1.30% 1


Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
285 269 16 5.61% 5

*The State’s testing program does not report results to the college. The number in this column reflects reports by students, faculty, or staff to SHAW and is not included in the positivity rate of the on-campus testing clinic.

For the week of Nov. 9, 2020, 316 unique students were tested with 316 being negative and 0 positive resulting in a 0% positivity rate. A total of 243 faculty and staff were tested with 240 being negative and 3 positives resulting in a 1.23% positivity rate. For Fall 2, testing occurs on Monday through Wednesday each week.

Since the inception of the testing clinic on Aug. 24, 386 unique students have been tested; 381 were negative and 5 were positive, yielding a 1.30% positivity rate. A total of 285 unique faculty and staff were tested; 269 were negative and 16 were positive, resulting in a 5.61% positivity rate.

Expansion of the On-Campus Testing Clinic

Testing is now available for any faculty member or staff member who wishes to be tested for COVID-19. Thanks to our health workers at SHAW, Grinnell will make tests available to staff and faculty who wish to be tested, who are not already in the testing pool. Follow this link to make an appointment. Please watch for a confirmation email that will be sent confirming your testing time. If you have been identified as being exposed to COVID-19 or if you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call SHAW prior to your testing appointment to make them aware and to receive further directions for testing in the location that is outside the natatorium.    

Sustaining Community Health Actions

As community spread of COVID-19 continues to expand in Poweshiek County and the city of Grinnell, please exercise extra vigilance and take preventative actions to help mitigate this spread: wear a mask, keep gatherings small and don’t meet indoors, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick. If you are a staff member, we have put in place several safety nets should you need to miss work (including additional sick leave). Please contact HR if you are ill to explore options to keep you and your household safe.

TestIowa Higher Education Test Site Information

Those who are not part of the Grinnell College COVID-19 testing pool can get tested at the TestIowa Higher Education test site in Grinnell.

Concerned About Those Who Increase Risk Due to Non-Compliance?

Most of our community do a terrific job of following public health guidelines, but occasionally, some may put the community at risk due to non-compliance. As a reminder, Grinnell College urges you to utilize EthicsPoint to anonymously report observed PPE or other public health policy non-compliance issues. This information will help us understand how to better support our campus community with ongoing education and outreach opportunities.

Important Update Regarding Wearing Masks

Wearing a mask can help protect you, not just those around you, from coronavirus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Nov. 10. The statement was an update to previous guidance suggesting the main benefit of mask wearing was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others.

Cloth masks act as "source control" to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide "filtration for personal protection" by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others, the CDC said in its new guidance (CNN Health, 11/10/2020).



Considerations Before Holiday Travel – Part II

As we look across Iowa and the nation, we are seeing rapid rise in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Health experts and Grinnell College are cautioning against holiday travel and having new contacts—chalking this year up as our “COVID year” and looking ahead to when we might more safely gather again. If you must travel, University of Minnesota’s Director for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Dr. Michael Osterholm, advocates that you limit contact as much as possible before you depart, and that the people at your destination do the same. 

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, podcast episode #30, “A New Dialogue”, 6 November 2020.

Asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of COVID-19 are still significant issues, and testing is only a snapshot in time that provides no guarantee that it is safe for you to engage with new contacts. Additionally, travel often creates new exposures.

So what precautions should you take if you will be traveling? The American College Health Association (ACHA) recently released guidance for student travel-- much of this applies to staff and faculty as well.

Day of Travel Advice:

  • Reduce the number of stops on the trip. Take a direct flight if possible, and if driving, pack food/snacks for the car trip home.
  • Delay travel if sick or exposed. Anyone feeling ill, recently diagnosed with COVID-19 (within 10 days), or exposed to someone with COVID-19 (within 14 days) should self-isolate and delay travel.
  • Take safety precautions during travel, especially if using public transportation. Wear a face covering at all times and consider also wearing a face shield. Stay at least 6 feet away from other people
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) frequently.
  • The least risky option is private transportation by yourself or your family members. If in a car with others outside the household, wear a mask and sit in the back seat if someone else is driving. If weather conditions permit, open the windows.

Arrival at Home Advice for Students:

  • The most cautious approach upon arrival home is to quarantine for the first 14 days after arrival. This is especially important if there are vulnerable, higher risk individuals living in the home.
  • Quarantining in the home includes eating meals in a private space or outdoors with family at least 6 feet apart.
  • Use separate serving ware, utensils, glasses, and plates.
  • Use a separate bathroom from other family members. If not possible, disinfect the bathroom after each use.
  • Avoid physical contact including hugging, kissing, and shaking hands.
  • Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when in the presence of others.
  • Restrict movement within and outside the home.
  • If quarantine is not possible, stay physically distant from family household members, wear a face covering, and avoid close contact, including hugging and shaking hands, for the first 14 days home.
  • Consider placing HEPA filter units in the home and opening windows to increase air circulation.

American College Health Association, “Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education as Students Return Home”  29 October 2020.

Students, staff, and faculty--you might find that YOU are in the position of having to advocate for COVID precautions for your family, including your parents. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health offers some strategies on how to have this conversation effectively:

  • When possible, use “I” statements. “I am worried that if I don’t quarantine when I get home that I might unknowingly risk your health.”
  • Before sharing information, ask questions about what is motivating their behaviors, to connect with emotions behind decisions. “Can you share more about why going out to eat is important to you?” 
  • Be thoughtful about sources you use to underpin the decisions you hope they will make.  The less political the better. 

More information in the full article:  https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/how-can-i-ask-my-friends-to-wear-masks-talking-to-friends-family-kids-and-oworkers-about-covid-19-safety.html

We’re all in this together!

Grinnell Health Heroes

Each week, we will recognize those students, faculty, and staff who exemplify outstanding health-related behaviors that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community. The following people are honored as this week’s Grinnell Health Heroes:

Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell has been nominated for his support to faculty and students as learning transitioned and course materials changed. As academic needs were changing constantly, Brian adapted with ease and a “Can-Do” attitude. His nominator noted his “grace under change.” Angela Voos notes that Brian exhibited the “kind of leadership that is precious in these uncertain times.” Anne Harris commends him for showing how the College’s operating principles of academic continuity can take many forms and that Brian’s “support and responsiveness to changing needs was a major and welcome contribution to our academic endeavor.”

Brian is a veteran having served in the Army. He is a playwright and active community theatre participant both in Grinnell and Newton. He is pictured here with his children Alex and Beth…and a koala.

Congratulations, Brian for being a true Grinnell Health Hero!

How to Nominate Grinnell Health Heroes

To nominate someone to be a Grinnell Health Hero, complete the Health Hero survey.

For more updates from SHAW, follow us on Instagram @grinnellcollegeshaw.

To Your Health,

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

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