Weekly COVID-19 Testing Clinic Update: Sept. 28

September 28, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

Welcome to the Weekly Update. SHAW cares deeply about your health and the health of our community. To this end, I write 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!

Results for the week of Sept. 21-25, 2020

Number Received Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites
521 518 3 0.58% 2

Total since testing began (Aug. 24, 2020)

Number of Unique Individuals Tested Negative Positive Percent Positive Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test
Sites*
556 550 6 1.08% 3

*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.

For the week of Sept. 21, 2020, 521 unique students, faculty, and staff were tested. Testing does not occur on Fridays. The number of tests administered the week of Sept. 21 to Sept. 25 was from three and one-half days of testing. Of the 521, 518 were negative and 3 were positive, resulting in a 0.58% positivity rate.

Since the inception of the testing clinic on Aug. 24, 556 unique individuals have been tested; 550 were negative and 6 were positive, yielding a 1.08% positivity rate.

Flu Vaccinations

SHAW and Human Resources are providing free flu vaccinations on campus this fall for students and all employees. Two different clinics will be offered this year. Essential employees and all students living on and off campus who are enrolled in the COVID-19 testing clinic, will be offered the flu vaccine at their regular testing time this week. No additional appointment is necessary.

For non-essential employees, SHAW will be hosting a drive-thru style vaccine clinic on Friday, Oct. 9. For employees who wish to be vaccinated elsewhere, flu shots are covered by the College health insurance plan regardless of where vaccinations are received.

The Importance of the Flu Vaccine

As we head into the golden month of October, we should also be aware that we are heading into influenza season in the Midwest. You may have heard concerns about what flu season means in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

It is particularly important to minimize your chances of getting the flu:

  • Since flu and COVID-19 are both in part respiratory diseases, their symptoms can present similarly, creating additional uncertainty and strain on testing capacity and PPE usage.
  • Severe influenza cases can necessitate hospital care, and we want to minimize the burden on our local health care system.
  • It is possible to have both the flu and COVID-19, which can potentially increase the severity of one or both diseases.

Fortunately, we have strong evidence on what helps prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Getting your flu shot if you are medically able—now is the time, as it takes two weeks for your body to produce the needed antibodies. Flu shots both help prevent you from getting the flu, or, if you do still get the flu, you will likely have a milder case. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations.htm
  • The exact same precautions you are already taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19:  cover your cough/sneeze, thoroughly wash your hands, maintain physical distancing, and wear a face covering in indicated spaces (particularly indoors). There is solid evidence of surface transmission of the flu, so disinfecting shared surfaces is an additional high priority.

Some good news:

Spring is arriving in Australia, which means they are at the tapering end of their flu season. What have we seen happen there?

  • The winter 2019 flu season in Australia saw 247,000 cases of the flu. In 2020, there were only slightly more than 21,000 cases (a reduction of over 90%!)
  • Australian public health authorities attribute this to two main factors: personal COVID-19 precautions making a significant difference in transmissibility AND the increase in flu shot participation—up to 18 million from 13 million in 2019. They cite no evidence that this year’s flu strain is less virulent—rather, it is the intentional preventative actions people are taking that are significantly slowing the spread.

Read more:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/australia-mild-flu-season-what-means-for-the-united-states#What-it-means-for-North-America

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6937a6.htm?s_cid=mm6937a6_w

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 are honored as this week’s Grinnell Health Heroes:

The Grinnell College Preschool Staff: Karen Veerhusen-Langerud, Jennifer Palmer, and Connie Molison

This group was nominated because they “have been working incredibly hard to provide a high-quality educational and social experience for the preschool students while maintaining their health and safety. They have managed to create a fun and safe environment for the children in a time when many of the kids are feeling anxiety and confusion.” Their nominator has worked with these staff in a variety of contexts and has been really impressed with their work. Interim Dean Marzluff said, “Thanks to Karen, Jennifer, and Connie for their work developing a reduced-density class plan mindful of community health and allowing reopening. This preschool laboratory plays an important role for both our community and the education of our students and the work of the team in reopening this facility benefits both our campus and our community. Your careful attention to details, from pre-planning and daily operations are a model for our planning as we reopen other spaces on campus.”

Connie is staying healthy for her 90-year-old mom and the preschoolers. Jennifer, who taught kindergarten in Rabat, Morocco, for a while, is staying healthy for her parents and children, one of whom has had 2 liver transplants. Karen is also staying healthy for her family. Her favorite mask design that she has seen had monarch butterflies all over it.

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

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

masonter@grinnell.edu
Ph:    641-269-4422

 

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