Cases Moderately Increasing: An Update on COVID-19

The following message about a moderate increase of COVID-19 infection among students, faculty and professional staff, post the Thanksgiving holiday break and reminders on how to minimize infection risk was sent to the Drexel community.

Dear Students and Colleagues:

As anticipated, there is a moderate increase of COVID-19 infection among students, faculty and professional staff, post the Thanksgiving holiday break. Similarly, other universities are experiencing an increase in cases, as is the entire Greater Philadelphia Region. This represents an overall increase in transmission of the delta variant.

At Drexel, thus far, at least one third of cases are among individuals who were never on campus during their infectious period. Infection clearly took place over the holiday break. There remains no evidence of transmission in our academic and administrative buildings, where masking continues to be mandatory when not seated in approved eating areas. As finals week approaches, along with planned holiday events, it’s more important than ever to follow campus guidance:

  • Wear a mask when indoors and please wear it correctly. Many of us have “mask fatigue” but we still need to wear them. Please help one another through this time of rising infection by masking and being mindful of your community. If you are in a crowd outdoors in chilly weather, also wear a mask.
  • Do not attend work or class if you are ill. Use the Drexel Health Checker to communicate your symptoms or exposure and schedule a COVID test.
  • Answer your phone when a case investigator or contact tracer calls. The number 215-895-2001 is a trained person calling who cares deeply about your health and community wellness.
  • Test if you don’t feel well or have been exposed.
  • Strongly consider a booster dose of vaccine. The CDC now recommends a booster dose for all adults who are two months from their J&J vaccination OR six months from all other vaccination series including Pfizer, Moderna and any other WHO international approved vaccines. There are still appointments available for booster clinics running today and tomorrow. Flu vaccine is also available at these clinics. If you are unable to schedule your appointment this week, booster doses and flu vaccine are available through student health starting next week. Call 215- 220-4700 to schedule your appointment.
  • Carefully consider holiday social events where food is involved. Any indoor event with food or drink where masks are removed increases your risk of infection. That doesn’t mean we can’t be social at this time of year- but we do need to be mindful. Keep your mask on when you are not at a table with your food/drink. Consider distancing from others.
  • Unvaccinated, exempted persons are at significant risk of infection. Take care of yourself during this time of higher viral transmission. If you have been granted an exemption from vaccination, you must always follow masking and distancing guidance. The Philadelphia Health Department strongly recommends that persons unable to be vaccinated avoid large (>25 people) social events altogether. If attending smaller (<25 people) indoor events, keep masks on the entire time if you are unable to achieve at least 6 feet distance from others while eating.

Looking forward to the Winter quarter, certain students will receive communication concerning testing during the week of Jan. 3. Students who live in Drexel housing will be required to test upon return to campus regardless of vaccination status. Testing availability at Queen Lane and the New College Building locations will be increased the week of Jan. 3 to accommodate returning students and employees.

We all want to prepare for final exams, the holiday season and all the enjoyable time that comes with it. So much is still possible, albeit different from other years. Follow the guidance, grab your mask, get through exams and have a great holiday season with family and friends.

Marla J. Gold, MD, FACP
Chief Wellness Officer and Senior Vice Provost for Community Health

Janet Cruz, MD
Director, Student Health Services