COVID-19 Update: Vaccine, Easter Travel and Testing
April 1, 2021
Dear SLU community members,
I am eager to share a few critical updates about topics that many of you have asked about.
COVID-19 Vaccine updates
As I said in my message last Friday, all higher education faculty and staff became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine this past Monday. At that time, we didn’t know if the state would ship us any vaccine for the coming week. Since then, we have received 1,300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
This was very exciting news! We quickly emailed registration information to eligible community members for two vaccine clinics. At yesterday’s clinic, we vaccinated more than 1,000 people. Today, we expect to see 400 more. Another 100 SLU community members got their second doses today.
We are very hopeful that the State’s supply of vaccine to us continues so we can inoculate as many of you as possible. We will continue to work off of the survey data that students, staff and faculty have provided us, so please be sure to fill that out if you haven’t already. Once we see things slow down with eligible SLU community members, we will start to invite eligible household members. Be sure to fill out the household member survey for your loved ones.
Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing
Starting this week, we are pausing our regular asymptomatic testing of on-campus students. This decision was made based on campus infection rates as well as a desire to redirect limited staff capacity towards vaccination efforts. Infection rates are extremely low on campus.
During the past four weeks, about 2,200 asymptomatic tests have been conducted and only 1 has been positive, and our overall positivity rate has been less than 2 percent since February. Conducting this number of asymptomatic tests regularly requires a team of individuals dedicated to such testing. Given that our employees are now eligible for vaccination, and all of our students will be eligible starting on April 9, it seems prudent to direct our limited staff towards vaccination.
We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 infection data on campus. And, of course, we will continue to conduct symptomatic testing and testing of people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 at the Student Health Center, asymptomatic testing of student-athletes as per NCAA guidelines, and, whenever directed by our contact tracing team, cluster testing of student groups.
If infection data becomes a concern, we will resume asymptomatic testing. We can pivot in as little as a few days if needed. Any decision to resume asymptomatic surveillance testing will be based upon both campus infection data and community infection data available from the St Louis City Health Department.
We felt this was important to share with the campus community as this will have an impact on the data reported on SLU’s COVID-19 dashboard. I anticipate our positivity rate will go up because of fewer asymptomatic negative tests in the denominator.
I have heard from many of you who have plans to travel or are already traveling to celebrate Holy Week and Passover with your loved ones.
Please continue to practice the public health safeguards that continue to serve our campus well: regular face mask use, safe social distancing and frequent hand hygiene. And if possible, I encourage you to get tested before coming back to campus. There is ample testing available in the community through places like Walgreens, CVS and others.
As always, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Stay safe and be well.
Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., RN, CIC, FAPIC
Special Assistant to the President
Director, Institute for Biosecurity
Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
College for Public Health and Social Justice