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COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: May 12

Thu, 2022-05-12 14:40
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: May 12 nsossen Thu, 05/12/2022 - 14:40

Dear Campus Community,

As finals conclude, we congratulate everyone on a successful semester and wish our graduates the best in all their future endeavors.

Today, we are announcing updates to COVID-19 testing operations on campus. Effective Monday, May 16, the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) will move the pick-up location for unobserved testing kits, antigen (at-home) tests and KN95 masks to Draper Hall, home of the Environmental Health and Safety department. The Unobserved PCR Testing Program is being extended until June 30 to serve students, faculty, staff and members of their households, as well as university-sponsored visitors. For more information about hours and drop box locations, please visit the COVID-19 Testing Program webpage. Meanwhile, the PHPC vaccine clinic has closed for the spring semester and will reopen in early June. To find a nearby COVID-19 vaccine location, you can visit the vaxfinder website.

As the university looks ahead to commencement activities, the campus is closely watching COVID-19 cases. UMass Amherst is fortunate that the campus community is highly vaccinated and that individuals testing positive are experiencing minimal-to-moderate symptoms of infection, and hospitalizations have remained extremely low. With cases increasing in Massachusetts and nationally, the university knows that its commencement events draw thousands from all over. To protect yourself and others, the campus strongly encourages all graduates and guests to wear a face covering when attending any indoor commencement events, regardless of vaccination status.

The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for May 4-10 shows 287 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 9.45% compared to last week’s rate of 6.91%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 7.89%. The campus positivity rate for PCR tests (unobserved test kits) this week is 6.4%.  

UMass is experiencing positive cases similar to many statewide rates in the Northeast, including Massachusetts. We do believe it is important to place the latest positivity rate in context. First, over the last few weeks, the PHPC has distributed over 22,000 self-test antigen test kits. More than one-third of this week’s positive cases are from these type of tests. Our case numbers include positive, self-reported antigen tests, but they do not include negative results of antigen tests since they are not provided to UMass. Second, voluntary testing has been associated with a high percentage of individuals who are reporting symptoms at the time of testing (90%). As a result of these factors, the positivity rate trended higher.

Within this context, it is clear that individuals are continuing to follow the public health best practices: testing when they have symptoms and reporting their positive results to the UMass public health team. As we noted above, individuals testing positive are experiencing minimal-to-moderate symptoms of infection, and hospitalizations are low. Medical experts now observe that the effectiveness of measures designed to prevent severe illness and hospitalization, as well as continuing to provide accommodations for vulnerable populations, are more significant than traditional case counts in developing public health guidance. As we near the third year of the pandemic, it is clear that COVID-19 will be present for the foreseeable future. Importantly, we have learned that vaccinations and boosters have proven effective at protecting people from serious illness and hospitalization. In our highly vaccinated UMass Amherst campus, during 2022 the hospitalization rate for the entire community is 0.01% and for those who tested positive within our community it is 0.10%. We truly appreciate everyone getting vaccinated and staying up to date with their COVID-19 boosters.

We continue to encourage everyone to complete a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure. As a reminder, individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu. We encourage you to take advantage of our free testing services before you leave campus.

This is the last weekly PHPC message for the spring semester. We would like to thank everyone on campus for their commitment to public health — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

Face Coverings for Indoor Commencement Events Strongly Encouraged

Mon, 2022-05-09 16:23
Face Coverings for Indoor Commencement Events Strongly Encouraged nmiller Mon, 05/09/2022 - 16:23

As the university looks ahead to this weekend’s commencement activities, the campus is closely watching COVID-19 cases. UMass Amherst is fortunate that the campus community is highly vaccinated and that individuals testing positive are experiencing minimal-to-moderate symptoms of infection, and hospitalizations have remained extremely low. 

As cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Massachusetts and nationally, the university knows that its commencement events draw thousands from all over. To protect yourself and others, the campus strongly encourages all graduates and guests to wear a face covering when attending any indoor commencement events, regardless of vaccination status.

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: May 5

Thu, 2022-05-05 15:17
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: May 5 nmiller Thu, 05/05/2022 - 15:17

Dear Campus Community,

As classes for the semester ended this week, we would like to wish all students taking their final exams a strong and successful finish to the semester. For the past two weeks, in addition to the PCR unobserved testing kits available at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC), faculty, staff and students can pick up self-test antigen test kits at the PHPC. In the past two weeks over 10,000 antigen test kits (two tests per kit) have been distributed. As a reminder, individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu. We encourage you to take advantage of our free testing services before you leave campus.

The PHPC vaccine clinic closed for the spring semester last week and will reopen in early June. To find a nearby COVID-19 vaccine location, please visit the vaxfinder website. Approximatively 50,000 vaccinations have been administrated at the PHPC vaccine clinic, and we would like to say a special thank-you to all the nursing students and faculty from the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing for this incredible accomplishment.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for April 27-May 3 shows 156 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 5.74%, compared to last week’s rate of 5.92%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 5.79%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal-to-moderate symptoms of infection, and there are no hospitalizations to report.

The positivity rate and cases include self-reported positive antigen tests. Negative results of antigen tests are not reported to UMass and are not factored into the UMass positivity rate, and neither are the number of antigen tests conducted. With the wide availability of antigen tests and the widespread availability of these tests at UMass, we encourage everyone to take advantage of these free test kits. KN95 masks remain available for free at the PHPC. We encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Please do a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 28

Thu, 2022-04-28 13:45
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 28 nmiller Thu, 04/28/2022 - 13:45

Dear Campus Community,

Starting last week, in addition to the PCR unobserved testing kits available at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC), faculty, staff and students can pick up free, at-home antigen test kits. Individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu.

The PHPC vaccine clinic closes for the spring semester today and will reopen in early June. To help you find a nearby COVID-19 vaccine location, visit the vaxfinder website. Please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 booster Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about eligibility.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for April 20-26 shows 132 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 4.73%, compared to last week’s rate of 4.86%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 4.87%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal-to-moderate symptoms of infection, and there is one hospitalization to report. KN95 masks remain available for free at the PHPC. We encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Please do a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 21

Thu, 2022-04-21 16:15
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 21 nmiller Thu, 04/21/2022 - 16:15

Dear Campus Community,

In addition to the PCR unobserved testing kits available at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) in the Campus Center, starting today faculty, staff and students can now pick up free, antigen self-test kits. Individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu.

The PHPC continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who needs to be vaccinated. A second booster is available for anyone over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals at least four months after their first booster.

These boosters are available on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. through April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment. Please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 booster Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about eligibility.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for April 13-19 shows 93 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 3.50%, compared to last week’s rate of 4.26%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 4.34%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection, and there are no hospitalizations to report.

As of April 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order of requiring masks on public transportation, including PVTA buses, is no longer in effect. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time. We encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking. KN95 masks remain available for free at the PHPC.

Please do a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 14

Thu, 2022-04-14 12:57
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 14 nmiller Thu, 04/14/2022 - 12:57

Dear Campus Community,

The Public Health Promotion Center continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who needs to be vaccinated. A second booster is available for anyone over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals at least four months after their first booster.

These boosters are available on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. through April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment. Please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 booster Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about eligibility.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for April 6-12 shows 126 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 3.70%, compared to last week’s rate of 4.64%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 3.48%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection, and there is one hospitalization to report. With the widespread availability of antigen tests, individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu.

The CDC announced yesterday that it is extending the nationwide mask mandate for public transit until May 3, 2022. This federal mandate requires masks aboard public transportation, including PVTA buses.

KN95 masks remain available for free at the Public Health Promotion Center in the Campus Center, and as a community we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Please do a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 7

Thu, 2022-04-07 15:23
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: April 7 nmiller Thu, 04/07/2022 - 15:23

Dear Campus Community,

The Public Health Promotion Center continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who needs to be vaccinated. A second booster is available for anyone over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals at least four months after their first booster.

These boosters are available on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. through April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment. Please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 booster Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about eligibility.

We monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for March 30-April 5 shows 102 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 4.34%, compared to last week’s rate of 2.17%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 2.66%.

The positivity rate and cases include self-reported positive antigen tests. Negative results of antigen tests are not reported to UMass. They are not factored into the UMass positivity rate, and neither are the number of antigen tests conducted. With the wide availability of antigen tests, individuals should continue to report their positive tests to testing@umass.edu. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection and there are no hospitalizations to report.

KN95 masks remain available for free at the Public Health Promotion Center in the Campus Center, and as a community we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Please do a daily symptom check. If you are sick, stay home and get tested. Be aware that allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID-19; when you are unsure, please wear a mask, get tested and use caution until you know the results. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please wear a mask and get tested on the fifth day after exposure.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

Current Guidance for Campus Events

Thu, 2022-04-07 13:25
Current Guidance for Campus Events nsossen Thu, 04/07/2022 - 13:25

At indoor events at UMass Amherst, masks are welcome but not required.  We encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Event organizers should make hand sanitizer available at entrances and exits of indoor event venues.

Organizers should ensure that venue permitted capacities are not exceeded.

Attendees should stay home if they are feeling ill, particularly if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including:

  • Temperature over 100.3F
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite

Attendees should also stay home if they have:

  • Been placed in quarantine for possible contact with COVID-19
  • Been directed to self-isolate or quarantine by a health care provider or public health official
  • Are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test

This is an update of guidance originally published on Oct. 3, 2021

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 31

Thu, 2022-03-31 15:26
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 31 nmiller Thu, 03/31/2022 - 15:26

Dear Campus Community,

As a reminder, please note that today is the last day that UMass Amherst will serve as a Stop the Spread community testing site. We again would like to thank all the student employees, staff, supporters and community members who participated in this program and the Baker-Polito administration for financial support that enabled the program.

The UMass Amherst testing center will continue to be open and available to faculty, staff, students and members of their household, and university sponsored visitors. All eligible individuals can continue to come to the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) to pick up testing kits as needed.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control updated its recommendations to allow people over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals to receive a second mRNA booster shot at least four months after their first booster. These boosters are available at the PHPC. Vaccine clinics are offered on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. through April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment. Please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 booster Frequently Asked Questions for additional information about eligibility.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in our community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for March 23-29 shows 49 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 1.87%, compared to last week’s rate of 2.89%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 2.25%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection and there are no hospitalizations to report.

Please continue to monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to campus. If you feel unwell, stay home and get tested. University Health Services has symptomatic testing available for students, or, if you have an unobserved test kit on hand you can drop it off at one of the campus kiosks.

KN95 masks remain available for free at the Public Health Promotion Center in the Campus Center, and as a community we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals make about their own masking.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 24

Thu, 2022-03-24 15:27
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 24 nmiller Thu, 03/24/2022 - 15:27

Dear Campus Community,

Today we are announcing changes to COVID-19 testing facilities located at UMass Amherst. Following the state’s decision to downsize its Stop the Spread testing program and conclude funding for the campus’ community testing site, the last day of testing for non-UMass community members will be Thursday, March 31. The UMass Amherst testing center, based in the Campus Center, will continue to serve students, faculty and staff and members of their households, as well as university-sponsored visitors.

Since the UMass Amherst Stop the Spread location opened in December 2021, more than 95,000 tests were performed for community members. We want to thank all the student employees, staff, supporters and community members who participated in the Stop the Spread program and the Baker-Polito administration for funding this vital service.

Vaccine clinics resumed this week and are offered on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. until April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment.

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in our community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for March 16-22 shows 39 new positive cases. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection and there are no hospitalizations to report. The university’s positivity rate is 2.30%, compared to last week’s rate of 1.83%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 1.91%.

Please continue to monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to campus. If you feel unwell, stay home and get tested. University Health Services has symptomatic testing available for students, or, if you have an unobserved test kit on hand you can drop it off at one of the campus kiosks.

KN95 masks remain available for free at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) in the Campus Center, and as a community we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals will make about their own masking.

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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

COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 17

Thu, 2022-03-17 14:03
COVID-19 Update from the UMass Public Health Promotion Center: March 17 nmiller Thu, 03/17/2022 - 14:03

Dear Campus Community,

We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in our community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program as well as wastewater surveillance. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for March 9-15 shows 40 new positive cases. The university’s positivity rate is 1.38%, compared to last week’s rate of 1.45%. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is 1.53%. Individuals testing positive continue to report they are experiencing minimal to moderate symptoms of infection.

Vaccine clinics will resume next week and are offered on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. until April 30. Walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to book an appointment.

Please continue to monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to campus. If you feel unwell, stay home and get tested. University Health Services has symptomatic testing available for students, or, if you have an unobserved test kit on hand you can drop it off at one of the campus kiosks.

KN95 masks will remain available for free at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) in the Campus Center, and as a community we encourage everyone to respect the choices that individuals will make about their own masking. 

Thank you for all that you’re doing — staying home when sick, testing when you have symptoms, and supporting each other as part of our community.

Sincerely,

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

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