Weekly COVID-19 Testing Clinic Update: Nov. 23

Published:
November 24, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

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. 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. Thank you for doing your part in keeping our community safe!

Testing Clinic Results for the Week of Nov.  16 - 20, 2020

Number of Unique
Students Tested
With Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
319 319 0 0% 0

 

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
254 252 2 0.79% 1

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
Sites*
387 382 5 1.29% 1

 

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
303 285 18 5.94% 6

*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. 16, 2020, 319 unique students were tested with 319 being negative and 0 positive resulting in a 0% positivity rate. A total of 254 faculty and staff were tested with 252 being negative and 2 positives resulting in a 0.79% positivity rate. For Fall 2, testing occurs on Monday through Wednesday each week.  During the week of November 23, testing will happen just on Monday and Tuesday.

Since the inception of the testing clinic on Aug. 24, 386 unique students have been tested; 387 were negative and 5 were positive, yielding a 1.29% positivity rate. A total of 303 unique faculty and staff were tested; 285 were negative and 18 were positive, resulting in a 5.94% positivity rate

Testing Protocol Diagrams

Attached please find the testing protocol diagrams that the College uses.  These testing protocols are informed by CDC guidelines and in consultation with a University of Iowa team of epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, and public health modeling experts. The College has created action diagrams for healthcare staff to follow based on the circumstances and symptoms of the individuals being tested and their test results. Three scenarios are diagrammed: asymptomatic individuals, symptomatic individuals, and close contacts/suspected exposures.

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 do not 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.

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.

A Glimmer of Hope and Renewed Commitment

Some of the most significant COVID-19 news of the last few weeks have been the results of Phase Three trials of two emerging vaccines (among many), one from Pfizer and one from Moderna.  In a recent interview with NPR, the Director of National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci shared, “Yes, it is OK to celebrate it because from a scientific and potential public health standpoint, this is an extraordinarily important advance.”

  • A Phase Three trial is done with a large sample size (~50,000 people for Pfizer’s, about ~30,000 people for Moderna’s) that tests for both efficacy of the vaccine in preventing disease under everyday conditions and also across diverse populations (age, race/ethnicity, health status) to look for less common potential side effects that were not seen in earlier trials.
  • The vaccines showed a 90-95% efficacy rate in preventing the development of COVID-19, and in the case of the Moderna vaccine, only participants in the placebo group experienced severe cases, suggesting that even if the vaccine does not provide full immunity to everyone, it can lessen the severity of the disease.
  • Both vaccines require two doses that must be taken four weeks apart. 
  • It is not yet known for how long the vaccine will provide resistance to COVID-19.   The Moderna study showed evidence of immunity two months after the second dose of the vaccine and both vaccines will continue to be studied.

What does this mean for us?

  • The vaccine is predicted to start becoming available in late December 2020, with the prioritization process still under consideration.  Healthcare workers are the most likely candidates for the earliest round of available doses.
  • According to the CDC, “the goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available,” and experts are working on how to distribute these limited vaccines in a fair, ethical, and transparent way.”
  • Vaccines availability will increase with the goal of the general population having access later in 2021. Dr. Fauci reminds us that, “the timeline of getting the doses into the vials and available for vaccination are going to be a graded process. It's not going to happen all at once”.

What does this mean for us today

There is hope ahead with this promising news, and also, as Dr. Fauci emphasizes, “This should not be a signal to pull back on the public health measures that we must continue to implement.”  Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University Minnesota and member of president-elect Biden’s new coronavirus advisory board, echoes this, sharing “This is all the more reason why we want to do everything we can to prevent infections right now occurring in the population.  This is light at the end of the tunnel . . . we can one day get beyond this . . . we’ve got to hold out to get the vaccine.”

A final word, with the Thanksgiving holiday happening this week, we strongly encourage everyone to follow CDC guidance to stay at home as much as possible and keep your gatherings small and/or virtual, with the safest and most recommended option being limited in-person interaction to those within your household.  May you have a safe, healthy and coronavirus-free holiday.

We can do this.  We can hang in there a little longer.  We’re all in this together!

More information is available here:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Osterholm Update, Episode #32 “Stop Swapping Air”
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention, University of Minnesota
19 November 2020

Vaccinations to Prevent COVID-19 Could Begin Next Month, Fauci Says
National Public Radio, 17 November 2020

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:

  • Paul Valencic – Paul’s nominator states that he is “always so happy and welcoming to everyone he interacts with. Through working Clinic shifts with Paul I’ve been able to see just how many people from around the College, students, faculty and staff, he knows by name and has a great relationship with.” Paul uses his power of positivity and humor to make a potentially stressful setting into one that is upbeat and welcoming. Angela Voos says, “there is something about the way Paul welcomes people that, removes the fear and sets people at ease. It is no small thing to create an atmosphere of calm in a time of uncertainty.”
  • Becky Heeren - In addition to being the smiling face at the check-in station at the campus COVID-19 testing station, Becky also leads a team of retirees and other volunteers who sew facemasks. To date the team has sewn at least 1,300 masks to date using their own supplies and supplies and money donated from others from the Tama and Toledo area. Becky and her team have donated their masks to public health, churches, public safety, schools, and group homes throughout Tama County. Angela Voos would like thank Becky “for being a part of a solution to the miseries COVID-19 is causing.”

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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