Weekly COVID-19 Testing Clinic Update: Nov. 9

November 10, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

NOTICE:  Very Important!

Our county, state, and the country are experiencing a significant surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Please exercise extra vigilance and take preventative actions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19: practice frequent hand washing, maintain physical distancing, wear a mask, 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.

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. 

Welcome to the Weekly Testing Clinic Update. 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.  2 - 6, 2020

Number of Unique
Students Tested
With Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
315 312 3 0.95% 0

 

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
242 239 3 1.24% 2

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*
385 380 5 1.33% 1

 

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
with Conclusive Results
Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
279 266 13 4.66% 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. 2, 2020, 315 unique students were tested with 312 being negative and 3 positive resulting in a 0.95% positivity rate. A total of 242 faculty and staff were tested with 239 being negative and 3 positive resulting in a 1.24% positivity rate. For Fall 2, testing occurs on Monday through Wednesday each week.

Since the inception of the testing clinic on Aug. 24, 385 unique students have been tested; 380 were negative and 5 were positive, yielding a 1.30% positivity rate. A total of 279 unique faculty and staff were tested; 266 were negative and 13 were positive, resulting in a 4.66% positivity rate.

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. Here’s the link for more information:

https://covid19testingia.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8l7JMzsP0Sj3L1j?testing_kit_override=education

Considerations Before Holiday Travel

Some of you may have reflected on last week’s piece and come to the decision that you still plan to travel and/or see people outside of your regular pod (a “closed” group of close contacts) during the holidays. If this is the case, it is essential that you start planning now on how you will minimize the risk that you might carry the virus to others. Remember that asymptomatic and presymptomatic 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.

So what precautions should you take before travelling or engaging with new contacts during the holidays? The American College Health Association (ACHA) recently released guidance for students before they travel or otherwise have new contacts—much of this thoughtful guidance applies to staff and faculty as well.

At least two weeks prior to departure or holiday visits with people outside of your current pod, the ACHA recommends:

  • Getting an influenza vaccination.
  • Reviewing the regulations governing travel to your destination. Some states require the completion of a travelers’ form prior to arrival, along with specific restrictions and requirements after arriving.
  • Minimizing risk of exposure and infection during the weeks leading to travel and/or visiting with new contacts. Any exposures could disrupt plans. If you become infected or exposed to a person who tests positive, you will need to isolate or quarantine before traveling.
  • Reduce the number of people with whom you have close contact prior to travel or engaging with new contacts. Any close interaction with persons outside your immediate pod presents an opportunity for infection, and currently Iowa is experiencing uncontrolled community spread.

In future articles, we’ll address precautions to take during travel and when you return.

We’re all in this together. Do you have a COVID-19-related topic you’d like to see addressed in a future newsletter? Please let us know.

Sources and opportunities to learn more:

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

https://www.acha.org/documents/Resources/COVID_19/ACHA_Brief_Considerations_for_IHEs_as_Students_Return_Home_10.29.2020.pdf

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, podcast episode #29, “Finding Light While in the Tunnel” Oct. 29 2020.

https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/podcasts-webinars/episode-29

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:

Mask Makers and Distributers: Rachel Bly, Bethany Conover, Jennifer Gilbreaith, and Deidre Freeman Huff

As we continue to “Mask Up” for our community, we wanted to thank more Grinnell College employees for making masks when they were needed. We are still using ours!

These individuals collectively made almost 400 masks in April and May. Rachel Bly also helped create and distribute the PPE kits for everyone. We aren’t sure how many bags she sealed, but our fingers ache just thinking about it!

Congratulations to all for being true Grinnell Health Heroes!

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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