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Thanksgiving COVID Update

To: BSU Community

From: Dr. Chris Frazer, Executive Director, The Wellness Center

Date: November 19, 2021

Re: Thanksgiving COVID Update


Dear BSU Community,

I know we are all looking forward with great anticipation to celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. As we begin the holiday season, please be mindful that COVID-19 remains present. We need to be especially vigilant in doing the simple things to stay safe, so that each of you returns to campus happy, healthy and ready for the home stretch of the semester.

This week, BSU saw an uptick in our positive tests on campus, with 10 positive results (up from 8 last week) out of 537 tests – a rate of 1.86%. Thankfully, all of our positive cases are experiencing either no or very mild symptoms. Massachusetts also saw an increase in its 7-day positivity rate from 2.15% to 3.04%. Similarly, the 14-day positivity rates for Plymouth and Bristol counties rose from 3.20% and 3.51% respectively last week to 3.67% and 4.06% respectively this week.

Vaccination

As we consider large holiday gatherings the best protection is being vaccinated. Being vaccinated protects you and those around you. I am grateful that more than 95% of our BSU students and employees are fully vaccinated – considerably higher than the overall state rate of 71%. Continue to lovingly encourage those around you to get vaccinated – it’s safe, effective and, even in breakthrough cases, protects you from becoming seriously ill.

Yesterday, the governor announced an added measure of protection, as all Massachusetts residents aged 18 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine six months after receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna shots, or two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

Testing

Along with being vaccinated, testing is a very effective way to keep your family and community safe. BSU testing is on a different schedule next week - Monday and Tuesday, November 22-23, from 8:30am-4:00pm in Dunn Conference Center. There is NO TESTING on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Individuals mandated to test weekly must test on either Monday or Tuesday if you are planning to be on campus at all during the week. Exempted students should use the same link they always use to record their testing compliance: https://forms.office.com/r/6umVdHCGTM

We encourage members of our campus community to get tested before Thanksgiving, especially if you are planning to gather in large numbers for the holiday. Testing is simple, fast and free to all members of the BSU community.

We resume our regular schedule of testing the following week. We recommend that you join us on Tuesday-Wednesday, November 30-December 1, to test again when you return to campus, particularly if you’ve been a part of a large gathering.

Other simple ways to stay safe

  1. Stay home when sick! Testing is a great way to know if you have COVID – and of course you absolutely need to isolate if you test positive. Plenty of other illnesses spread through avoidable contact, so do your best to avoid being part of that large family gathering if you’re starting to feel sick.
  2. Masking continues to provide another layer of protection if we are gathering in close contact with others.
  3. A recent New York Times article had a helpful way of thinking about staying safe in a COVID environment: think of it like winter driving. We know icy roads can be hazardous “but we don’t stay home all winter. We check the forecast and whether the roads have been plowed. We make sure our cars and tires are in good condition, and then we buckle our seatbelts and hit the road …. Assessing risk for COVID will be similar …. It starts with staying aware of local COVID conditions, like hospitalizations and vaccination rates, and avoiding crowds and high-risk gatherings where we don’t know the vaccination status of others. We’ll wear masks when needed and use rapid home tests to keep gatherings COVID-free. And anyone who is sneezing or coughing should always stay home.”

I hope to see you at Dunn on Monday and Tuesday next week. Keep your safety and that of those around you first and foremost in your mind and heart. That way we can all experience a joyful Thanksgiving holiday.