Public Health Update – 8/28

This is a repost of the email Dr. McLarney sent to students on August 28th.

The fall semester has arrived. It is wonderful to see students, faculty, and staff on campus. Health Services has been busy at the testing tent on Andrus Field this week assisting as members of the campus community take their COVID-19 tests. So far everything is going smoothly, and we thank everyone for their cooperation and patience as we all get accustomed to this process.

To date, we have received results for 1,875 tests, with only one positive test result for an employee, who was immediately isolated. To remain informed about our testing results and procedures, visit Wesleyan’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which will be updated regularly. On the dashboard, you will find an alert level for the University, which provides context for the situation on campus, as well as a tally of active cases, cumulative results to date, and test results by week for all students and employees who are tested on campus.

We are also aware of several students who received positive COVID test results when they took a test prior to leaving home. These students have delayed their arrival to campus until they are medically cleared, and Health Services will remain in touch with these students to track their recovery.

As a reminder, we’ll be testing all students twice per week to allow us to detect COVID in the pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic stage and to isolate any infected students and their close contacts in order to stop the spread of the disease. We’ll also be testing faculty and staff who are working on campus. More information on testing frequency and schedules is available on our Testing website.

I feel confident in the safety precautions and community guidelines Wesleyan has put in place to make this the safest possible campus. That said, we expect to see some number of positive COVID cases in our testing, and are fully prepared to address this situation when it arises. You can read on the website about our protocols for isolation, quarantine, and care for students and employees who test positive, as well as our contact tracing procedures. Wesleyan has capacity to isolate at least 200 students in a combination of rooms we’ve reserved at the Inn at Middletown and additional rooms on campus.

It’s important to note that the isolation of a person who has received a positive COVID test is different from the self-quarantine that all students are required to take part in upon arrival to campus. Whereas those students in quarantine can leave their residence to pick up to-go meals and get their twice weekly COVID test done, students with COVID and close contacts may not leave the premises at all until they have been medically cleared.

A word on close contacts: Living on campus often means living with others—thus it is unavoidable that you will be considered a close contact if your roommate or housemate contracts COVID. But being the person who is “less than 6 feet apart for 15 minutes or longer” is preventable, and should be avoided as much as possible. Similarly, I must note that intimacy with others will put one at risk for contracting COVID. Please think twice about potentially exposing someone you care about.

If we all consider ourselves potentially infected and contagious in a pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic stage, we will act accordingly. When we get that negative test back, we will breathe a sigh of relief (wearing a face covering, of course) and then must consider ourselves potentially infected and contagious until the next test is back.

Finally, an important reminder that classes begin Monday, and will be delivered remotely for the first week, beginning August 31, in order to allow all students on campus to complete the required two-week quarantine. For those courses being taught on campus, in-person instruction will begin on September 7.

As we enter the fall semester, I invite you to continue sending your questions to me. We are all in this together and all learning more every day. Be safe!

Tom McLarney, MD