Regular COVID update, August 17

To: Deans, Directors, Department Heads 

From: Dustin Calhoun, M.D. 
Chief Medical Preparedness Officer and Chair, COVID Response Team 
Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine  

Re: Regular COVID update, August 17  

As we look forward to fall semester, I want to make sure you have the information you need to ensure your success and that of the University of Cincinnati in the ever-changing pandemic world. To that end, I will send regular updates regarding the larger context as well as reminders, updates and clarifications related to UC’s COVID-19 response.    

Our region from 30,000 feet: Rising rates impact the unvaccinated  

For those who are vaccinated 
and otherwise healthy, the current increase in COVID infections and hospitalizations in our region is unlikely to make you severely ill. Those who are vaccinated may potentially experience a breakthrough infection, though the risk is low compared to the unvaccinated. The science demonstrates that after receiving COVID-19 vaccination, you are highly unlikely to experience serious effects or hospitalization if you do experience a breakthrough infection.   

  • For those who are not fully vaccinated, it’s a different picture. Recent increases in COVID rates are primarily impacting the unvaccinated.  

    Currently, in Hamilton County and Ohio, the number of new COVID-19 cases doubles every 14 days. Hamilton County’s 175.2 new cases per 100K people per seven-day period places us in the CDC’s high transmission category. The vast majority of these infections are among unvaccinated individuals. 
  • Similarly, in our region, 8.9% of COVID-19 tests performed are positive for infection, and hospital admissions continue to rise, but again, the vast majority among unvaccinated individuals. 

The science is clear that the COVID vaccines are both safe and highly effective. Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing you can do to reduce infections and help stop spread. If you want to help protect your own health and safety and contribute to the health of those around you, please get vaccinated! It’s fast, easy, and free.  

 Round up on current university practice  

Vaccination: Like other public schools in Ohio, the university is governed by House Bill 244 prohibiting these schools from seeking to "Require an individual to receive a vaccine for which the United States food and drug administration has not granted full approval." Nevertheless, the COVID Response Team strongly encourages vaccination, and to that end, the university is among the many schools sponsoring a vaccination drawing. Please take part!   

Testing: Currently, the university plans to require weekly testing involving students in residence halls, but voluntary testing is available too. Faculty and staff can voluntarily test (at no cost to you) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., M-F, starting Aug. 24.  

Facial covering: Required indoors of both those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated. After vaccination, a facial covering (especially when used indoors) is the most important tool in our toolkit when it comes to helping stop infection and spread. To that end, we continue to make a free KN-95 facial covering (with its greater filtering performance) available to any UC faculty or staff member who fills out this request form. These are available while supplies last.  

Social distancing: Can be an additional preventative measure and is encouraged when and where possible and appropriate.  

Surface cleaning: Surface contamination plays only a minor role in COVID transmission, so while hand hygiene and cleanliness are always an essential, it is important not to be afraid of our environment.   

I’m looking forward to the year ahead of us. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions as well as suggestions of topics to cover in these messages.