COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center

Dear Campus Community:

The Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) is closely monitoring the results of the UMass Amherst COVID-19 testing program. We are extremely encouraged with reduction in positive cases the past two weeks. Positive cases continue to be predominately among undergraduate students connected to un-masked social activities. We do not see any spread in academic settings. Most cases continue to be of short duration resulting in mild-to-moderate illness. Details about case counts and vaccinations can be found on the university’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which is updated every Thursday.

The latest data covering Sept. 22-28 shows 40 new positive cases. The previous week there were 105 cases and two weeks ago there were 380 cases.  This is almost a 90% reduction in the number of cases over the last two weeks. The university’s cumulative seven-day positivity rate dropped to 0.57% from 1.33% last week and 4.18% two weeks ago. The state’s seven day positivity rate is 1.97%.

The PHPC also launched adaptive testing two weeks ago. Selected students both on and off campus are being asked to come for additional testing so we can better understand the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our community. Please note, students selected for adaptive testing are not close contacts of known cases but are selected on a basis of address only. This is a small effort for individual students but collectively plays an important role in allowing the campus to operate effectively. The first round of adaptive testing resulted in no positive cases. We are continuing adaptive testing this week. If you are selected, please test as soon as possible within the timeframe specified.

Twice weekly flu vaccination clinics start today at the PHPC on the lower level of the Campus Center.  UMass students, faculty and staff can book flu vaccination appointments through the Campus Health hub. Flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others against influenza.

Last week the Baker-Polito Administration announced that eligible Massachusetts residents can access the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot. Please visit the UMass COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic website to determine if you are eligible.  As UMass continues to operate a twice-weekly public COVID-19 vaccination clinic, eligible individuals can book an appointment by going to the Vaccine Appointment Scheduling page.

We are extremely encouraged with the recent decrease in the positivity rate and cases. Please continue to follow important public health protocols, including wearing masks indoors and while outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Everyone must continue to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to campus. If you feel unwell, stay home, and get tested.  Testing is free and readily available at the Public Health Promotion Center.

Please remember that the steps you take make an important difference. Continue to care for yourselves and one another.

Sincerely,

Co-Directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC)

Ann Becker, Public Health Director
Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safe