Dear WashU Employees,
As our academic year begins and students return to the classroom, it is important for all of us to remain up–to-date on the current state of COVID in our community and remember best practices, policies and expectations of faculty and staff.
- Since the July 4th holiday, we have seen an increase in COVID cases among WashU faculty and staff. While summer travel may explain some of this, a new Omicron subvariant is emerging within the community and contributing to cases. Although past infection and vaccination with the current Bivalent booster are protective and reduce symptoms, it is still possible to get sick with this subvariant. Current regional levels of infection and hospitalization remain significantly lower than past peaks during the Delta (Fall 2021) and Omicron (January 2022) surges. However, hospitalizations nationwide have increased approximately 40% since earlier in the summer when cases were at their lowest.
- To protect yourself, our colleagues, and our community, please remain vigilant for symptoms of COVID. Regardless of campus location or job position, any employee with COVID-related symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, muscle or body aches) or a positive COVID test is required to contact the Occupational Health Call Center at 314-362-5050 or email@example.com for screening and further guidance prior to reporting to campus.
- Occupational Health will accept report of a positive home antigen test in lieu of a laboratory test, but these results must be communicated to the Occupational Health Call Center. Symptomatic employees with a negative home test should contact the Call Center to arrange additional testing.
- Each of us has a vital role to play in safeguarding health and reducing the spread of COVID through effective handwashing, staying up-to-date on COVID vaccinations, and choosing to wear a mask when there are increased risks (e.g., crowded indoor public spaces).
- While vaccinated individuals can still get COVID, vaccination significantly lowers the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death. WashU’s Occupational Health (located in the Center for Advanced Medicine, Suite 5A, at the Medical Campus) currently provides free COVID boosters to all WashU employees on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month. To ensure adequate vaccine supply, employees must schedule an appointment by calling 314-362-3528.
- We anticipate an updated COVID booster to be released sometime in the fall, possibly late October. Additional information about availability/reimbursement of the vaccine will be shared in future communications. Employees who have not yet received the current booster may wish to consult their primary care provider regarding whether they should receive the current booster now or wait for the updated booster later this fall.
Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Working together, we can continue to protect our WashU community against COVID-19 as we start a new and exciting academic year.
Aaron Daugherty, MSW, MBA
Business Director, Occupational Health
Stephen Liang, MD, MPHS
Medical Director, Occupational Health