February 24, 2021: Vaccine Rollout and Webinar

Governor Lamont recently announced the plan for further rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Unlike previous plans for essential workers and those with pre-existing medical conditions, the new plan will be based solely on an individual’s age (with the exception of educators in pre-K through 12). On March 1, individuals 55 and older are eligible to begin scheduling appointments.

The governor’s medical team put considerable thought into this approach, and I believe it makes a lot of sense.

The age-based rollout has been successful in some European countries. The CDC rollout, in contrast, has been fraught with uncertainty over who qualifies as an essential worker and who is at high risk.

February 23, 2021: Vaccine Eligibility

Dear friends,

I trust this note finds you well and safe. Connecticut is in phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, in which those 55 and older will be eligible to register to receive the vaccine beginning on March 1. The state has altered its rollout strategy and will continue to use aged-based eligibility, which is designed to simplify the scheduling and administration of COVID-19 vaccines for both recipients and providers alike.

Employees who fall into this category (55 and older) can find information about scheduling an appointment for their vaccine on the state’s website.

February 17, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan Community:

We are past the halfway mark for our post-arrival self-quarantine, and we can report that our numbers are very promising. The combination of pre-arrival testing and twice weekly testing on campus, arrival quarantine, and the spot use of rapid antigen tests is working. The most important factor is compliance by Wesleyan students. You have risen to the occasion. Thank you!

In light of these reassuring numbers, we have been able to relax some quarantine restrictions a bit for the second week. For more information, please review the latest updates on the Keep Wes Safe web pages.

February 11, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan Community,

Welcome to the new semester! Whether you have returned to campus, are studying virtually from home, or have decided to take a gap semester/year, I wish everyone good health and safety.

Thus far, our return to campus has been a great success. We have seen terrific compliance from our students with pre-arrival testing and quarantine and influenza vaccination. In our first few days of testing, the positivity rate is very low relative to our predictions. Please pat yourselves on the back for a job well done! Wesleyan’s alert level is currently at Yellow, and all students remain in a state-mandated arrival quarantine through the end of the day on February 21. The 14 days of self-quarantine (which is based on the incubation period for the coronavirus), along with our twice weekly testing, constant wearing of face covers, and grab-and-go meals, gives our campus the best chance of becoming as safe as possible.

February 3, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan community,

Greetings. I am looking forward to students’ return to campus in just a few short days.

Wesleyan’s staff has been hard at work in the lead-up to the new semester, and we’re confident that we are prepared to have the safest possible environment on campus this spring, as we did in the fall. Yet we also know that we are beginning our new semester in a very different public health climate. It is the coldest part of the year when most activity will be indoors (which we know to carry a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission), and the positivity rate, hospitalizations, and deaths are all at much higher levels across the country compared to the fall. Perhaps most concerning to medical experts is the rapid emergence of several new variant strains of the virus, and our lack of capacity to identify them in labs.

January 21, 2021: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dear colleagues,

I hope this finds you all well. Many of you are likely wondering about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Connecticut and our plans for the Wesleyan community. We are strongly encouraging all our employees to be vaccinated, and are following state guidelines regarding eligibility for vaccinations.

Currently, Connecticut is in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, in which those age 75 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. Employees who fall into this category can find information about scheduling an appointment for their vaccine on the state’s website or eligible employees may contact the Middletown Senior Center for information about its vaccination clinics at (860) 638-4549 or seniorvaccine@middletownct.gov.

January 14, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan community,

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and safe 2021!

Many of us are feeling optimistic at the start of this new year with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign underway. Research and development as well as production of vaccines has occurred at an extremely fast pace, and two vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seems likely that other vaccines may be approved soon. The vaccine roll-out has hit some stumbling blocks, with variation across states in the criteria and systems being used to deliver the vaccines.

With that being said, 2021 has also certainly started with COVID-19 challenges. We have seen increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations across the country and in the state of Connecticut. As I write this, the positivity rate in Connecticut approaches 11 percent—the highest we have seen since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, variants, or mutant strains, of the SARS CoV-2 virus appear to be significantly more transmissible, contributing to greater spread of the virus, though thankfully not a more severe illness. Post-holiday surges resulting from travel and gatherings in late December may continue to increase the already-high positivity rates over the next several weeks. And cold weather is keeping most of us indoors, where there is a higher risk of the virus spreading. Meanwhile, recent reports show that more than half of COVID cases were contracted from a person who was either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, reinforcing that we can never let our guard down with SARS CoV-2 around. Thankfully, reduced travel and COVID prevention measures seem to be contributing to a very light flu season thus far, which is important as the confluence of a bad flu outbreak and COVID-19 could rapidly overwhelm our already-taxed health care systems.

December 16, 2020: Public Health Update

From: Tom McLarney, MD

Date: December 16, 2020

Subject: Public Health Update

To our Wesleyan community,

Congratulations on completing the semester, whether it was at home, on campus, or a combination of both. It was a job done well on all accounts, from completing your rigorous academics to living in the new normal defined by COVID-19 and adhering to guidelines, rules, and regulations to keep everyone safe.

I cannot overemphasize the magnitude of this past week’s news: The Pfizer vaccine has been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). As I write this advisory, shipments of this vaccine are being delivered across the U.S.

In my last advisory, I reviewed the new technology of using synthetic messenger RNA (m-RNA) to stimulate the immune system to protect us from SARS CoV-2. The initial studies demonstrate an efficacy up to 95% and a very promising safety record. Monitoring of safety will continue during the widespread use of the vaccine. Soon other vaccines will receive FDA approval, including the Moderna vaccine (also an m-RNA vaccine).

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the vaccine and COVID-19.