October 15, 2020: Public Health Update

Date: October 15, 2020

From: Tom McLarney, MD

Subject: Public Health Update

To Our Wesleyan Community,

Greetings. I hope you’ve been enjoying our beautiful New England fall, and finding ways to take care of your physical and mental well-being as the cold weather approaches.

I’ll begin with a quick update on the numbers: We currently have one active case among students and none among employees. To date, we’ve had four positive cases in students and five in employees.

I’m so proud of how our community has come together to minimize the spread of COVID-19, but as I’ve said before, it is important that we do not let down our guard. Our neighbors at Yale and Trinity have experienced COVID outbreaks this month, and we are not immune to the same thing happening at Wes. To this end, I’m pleased to share with you a new online resource, Keep Wes Safe, where you can find reminders of the important safety guidelines we must all continue to following. The website also contains links to helpful resources, like the COVID-19 Dashboard and Testing and Contact Tracing page; an archive of related campus messages; important upcoming dates; and even a variety of fun videos showing our safe campus in action.

Though by now we’re all well-versed in the safety guidance of social distancing and mask-wearing, I believe some of us could benefit from a clarification on the details of how these must be carried out. To be clear, you must wear a mask or face cover at all on times on campus—indoors or out—unless you are eating or alone in a private space. Both face coverings and social distancing must be adhered to—not one or the other. All students and employees must also follow testing protocols. For our faculty and staff, you must also check in and affirm you have no symptoms of COVID or illness via the form in your WesPortal on any day you come to work on campus. Please see the COVID Agreement for Students  and Community Agreement for employees for additional details.

It is critically important that people who are sick stay home, and do not come to the tent to be tested. Students should call the Davison Health Center 24/7 to discuss symptoms and establish a plan of action. Testing can be done at the Health Center for any student who is symptomatic. Employees should consult with their health care provider (you will also need documentation from them clearing you to return to work), and should notify their supervisor of their illness.

As a reminder, symptoms of COVID are quite broad and can include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, sore throat, body/muscle aches, headache, congestion, and loss of taste and/or smell. These symptoms may range from mild to severe, and one can have COVID with no symptoms at all.

As you know by now, Wesleyan is conducting careful contact tracing to prevent the spread of COVID when cases do occur. If you are notified that you are a close contact of someone with COVID, you must quarantine for 14 days after your last exposure to that person. A close contact includes an intimate partner, someone who lives with the person who has COVID, or anyone who has been closer than 6 feet away for 15 minutes or longer in the 48 hours preceding that person’s positive COVID test or onset of symptoms. For employees, close contacts should not come to work and should not come to the tent to be tested. This holds even if the employee has no symptoms.

To minimize the chance of being a close contact, please remember to keep at least 6 feet away from everyone unless your job demands otherwise, in which case, you should minimize the amount of time in which you are in close proximity to others. I also recommend that you avoid sharing a vehicle with others outside of your family or those with whom you live. It is recommended that you eat alone, but if you eat with others, you should definitely keep more than six feet apart to avoid transmission while your mask is removed.

As always, wash your hands frequently, avoid groups, disinfect high-touch surfaces, and come to all your testing appointments.

Thank you again for your cooperation. If we all work together, I’m confident we can get through the semester.

Tom McLarney, MD