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Mark Parisi, director of counseling and health services, sent the following weekly COVID-19 update to students today, February 19, 2021:

Dear Students,

As you learned from Dr. Butler’s email message last night, we are experiencing an increase in positive cases currently. Even so, it should be noted that the Albany County 7-day average is currently 2%, so our approximately 1% positivity rates on campus are lower than the surrounding community rate. It is also important to note that we have not seen spread associated with in-person classes. Overall, classroom spread even in the K-12 education system is very limited. Classrooms can be more controlled with regard to social distancing and masks.

Mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing are still our best tools to fight the spread of the virus. For all the individuals in quarantine: Remember you can always reach out for additional support if you need it from our Counseling and Psychological Services Center (see contact info below).

We had 15 students and 0 employees report positive COVID-19 test results this week, bringing our total of cases for the spring semester to 82. We currently have 18 cases that are still considered active (including the 15 students who tested positive this week). Please note that the semester total includes test results from some time ago that have been self-reported since the start of the semester. They are not always recent or active cases. As a reminder, you can find the tally of positive COVID-19 cases on campus by viewing our COVID-19 Dashboard. It will be updated as new cases are reported.

Questions about quarantine: We’ve had some questions from students about quarantine recently, and this is a reminder that the information can be found on the restart website under “What happens when you are asked to quarantine?”To answer the most common question: If a student is told to quarantine because they violated the guest or COVID policies, this quarantine must be done off-campus. If a student is not able to go home to quarantine, the Office of Residence Life will work to make arrangements for the student to complete the quarantine in a local hotel and the cost will be billed to the student’s College account. Any student who is exposed, through no fault of their own, will be provided with quarantine housing on-campus or at a local hotel which will be covered by the College in accordance with NYS guidance.

Increased sample testing: This semester, we are increasing our weekly sample testing efforts. We will now randomly select 10% of our on-campus population (both undergraduate and graduate students and employees) for testing each week. This is an increase from last semester, when we tested 1% to 2% of our student population on campus weekly. The testing will be conducted using a non-invasive technique involving a saliva sample. If you are having COVID-19 testing done, be sure to not drink or eat anything a half hour before your testing appointment.

CDC updated guidance on mask use: The CDC is now recommending using two masks or tying the ear loops on disposable surgical masks to maximize the effectiveness of the masks in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. They believe this may be especially helpful in protecting people from transmitting the new variants of COVID-19, which appear to be more contagious. Here is avideo demonstrating how to tie the ear loops. As for Saint Rose, you are not required to wear two masks, but you must continue to wear at least one mask in order to comply with our COVID-19 policies.

Daily Symptoms Tracker: Remember to complete the Symptoms Tracker form that appears on your To-Do list in the Navigate app every day.

Reporting positive COVID-19 results: Please remember, we are asking all students who seek off-campus COVID-19 testing and receive a POSITIVE result to email your test result to covidresults@strose.edu.

COVID-19 vaccine: It is important to be vigilant regarding scams being perpetrated around COVID-19 vaccination. Given the current issue with the limited supply of available vaccines, scammers are taking advantage and advertising fraudulent offers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in an effort to steal personal information and/or collect money. Beware of these scams. To learn more about all types of COVID-19 related fraud, see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services webpage. To find the most current information on the status of legitimate COVID-19 vaccine availability in New York. See vaccine updates.

A common question: If I’m vaccinated do I need to wear a mask? The answer is yes. According to the CDC, “People wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. … We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update (the public) as we learn more.” For this same reason, individuals who have been vaccinated are still required to participate in our surveillance testing.

New York updated quarantine guidance for vaccinated people: Individuals can forego quarantine if they are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 if at least two weeks, but not more than three months, have passed since they received their second dose of vaccine. Click here for the CDC’s updated guidance (it’s located about halfway down the page under the heading “Public health recommendations for vaccinated persons”). Vaccinated individuals should still wear masks and social distance. At this time the quarantine exception for vaccinated individuals does not apply to the current travel guidelines. Vaccinated New York travelers traveling internationally or to states that are not contiguous with New York must still follow the quarantine guidelines in place.

Treatment at Health Services: For any non-urgent medical issue, students can call 518.454.5244 or email healthservices@strose.edu for assistance, and their cases will be triaged by our LPN or nurse practitioners. Based on the presenting concerns, the triage outcome may lead to a telehealth or in-person appointment with the nurse practitioner.

Treatment at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center: Students may be experiencing emotional distress in response to the impact of the pandemic on their daily lives. Please call our center at 518.454.5200 or email us at counseling@strose.edu to speak with a counselor through a phone or Zoom session.

More COVID-19 information: You can find the most current COVID-19 information on the CDC’s COVID-19 webpage. You can always call the New York State Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 888.364.3065 and ask any question you have regarding COVID-19.

You can view COVID-19 data for the Capital Region (and by county) on the New York State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.

New York State has put out a new COVID-19 contact tracing app that you can download to your phone. This app will be used to help notify you if you have been in close contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions, please contact the College’s Health Services at 518.454.5244 or healthservices@strose.edu.

Sincerely,

Mark Parisi
Director of Counseling and Health Services