Campus Update: COVID-19 and Flu
September 30, 2021
We are now well into our fall 2021 semester, and we could not have come this far without your patience, resilience, and diligence in following our public health guidance on campus. We’re all learning how to adapt to the presence of COVID-19 and its variants in our daily lives, and I want to thank you for your efforts to ensure a safe return as we re-populated our campus over the past several weeks. Together, we’ve kept our COVID-19 positivity rates well below those of our surrounding communities and region, and have been effective in avoiding classroom and workplace transmission.
Our Gateway Testing, or testing performed upon your arrival, provided a baseline rate of positivity among students, faculty, staff, and postdocs. Our student Gateway positivity rate was 0.61%, and our faculty, staff, and postdoc Gateway positivity rate was 0.25%. Additionally, our vaccination rates on campus remain high. As the October 15th deadline from the City of Philadelphia approaches, 95% of our faculty and staff campus-wide are vaccinated, as are 96% of our entire student population.
Even as a highly vaccinated community, we have a collective responsibility to work together to protect our campus and our surrounding neighborhoods. To do so, we must simply continue to follow the University’s public health guidance:
- Complete your daily symptom attestation through PennOpen Pass.
- Mask-up! Whenever indoors, in public and shared spaces, wear a mask—even if fully vaccinated.
- Participate in the University’s required Screening Testing Program:
- All fully vaccinated students must test once every other week (some student groups must test more regularly);
- Fully vaccinated faculty, staff, and postdocs are randomly chosen each week and informed via email to participate in screening testing;
- Those with an approved COVID-19 vaccine exemption, and those who have not yet been fully vaccinated, must continue to test twice a week.
- Continue to be mindful of good hand and cough hygiene: wash your hands frequently and cough into your elbow.
- Keep surfaces clean: this will also help minimize the transmission of the many other traditional fall illnesses that are still circulating—including the common cold, RSV, strep throat, and more.
- Practice physical distancing when eating or drinking in the presence of others, especially indoors, and consider eating outdoors if possible.
As a reminder, all students are required to receive the flu vaccine this year. Please visit the Wellness at Penn page for more information about Penn’s 2021 Flu Clinic, taking place at Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, from October 4-8. The clinic will be open Monday through Thursday, 10 am-6:30 pm and Friday, 10 am-3 pm. There is no cost for this vaccination. All faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows are also eligible to receive their flu shot at no cost. Simply bring your Penn ID and mask-up!
Remember—we all benefit when we do our part. We are learning to co-exist with COVID-19 and our experience thus far shows that COVID-19 does not deter us from fulfilling our academic mission here at Penn.
It is our united actions that will define our success and strengthen us. Union, as Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “makes us strong and even formidable.”
With appreciation and in good health,
Benoit Dubé, MD, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer