COVID-19 response weekly update: COVID-19 dashboard, testing, isolation protocols and annual flu shots

COVID-19 response weekly update

October 12, 2020

Dear colleagues,

This week I have updates on the COVID-19 dashboard, testing, isolation protocols and the annual flu shot.

Dashboard. Rice’s testing statistics, along with isolation and quarantine data, can be found on the COVID-19 website: https://coronavirus.rice.edu. This week you’ll see some additional information we’ve added to the dashboard. First, we’re publishing self-reported positive SARS-CoV-2 tests that were not performed through Rice testing. Almost all of these were reported by symptomatic people who are off-campus and obtained testing on their own. While the tests are not verified by Rice, we treat them as if they are positive, and our quarantine and isolation protocols are employed. (These cases are included in the isolation and quarantine section of the dashboard). Second, we have added Harris County COVID-19 data.

Testing. Over the last seven days, we tested about 5,000 people. Two people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This week, we’re testing at our intended regular capacity of 1,000 PCR tests a day. We’ve been contacting the people we hope to test every week (based on return to work plans, grad student surveys and on-campus instructors identified by the registrar). But if you’ve not been contacted for a test and for any reason you feel you should be tested (if you’re on-campus and having sufficient contact with other people), you should sign up at https://veoci.com/veoci. (Enter this security code: 83590137). Please be sure to confirm you’ve provided all the requested information correctly when you sign up for a test appointment (especially your birth date, email, and NetID). You should receive a confirmation email shortly after scheduling your test. You must bring your confirmation email with a QR code (either on your phone or a printed copy) to check in to your testing appointment. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact covidtesting@rice.edu because that means there’s probably an error that may also delay the delivery of your test results.

Last week, we added a third SARS-CoV-2 testing capability that is based on research conducted at MD Anderson by one of our own faculty members. It’s called the LAMP test, and it’s being used as part of a research study to evaluate performance with saliva. When used with nasopharyngeal swabs, its sensitivity approaches that of a standard PCR test and it’s comparable to commercial tests the FDA has authorized for clinical use. The LAMP test will be used only for initial screening of asymptomatic individuals. Any positive tests will be retested using a PCR test administered by one of Rice’s other clinical providers. We intend to ramp up this capability to approximately 400 tests a day over the next couple of months.

Isolation Protocol. If someone tests positive, or has symptoms that a physician deems likely to be COVID-19, we immediately isolate them on-campus in Sid Rich College, or off campus in their home. Symptomatic students have PCR tests performed through Rice testing to confirm the diagnosis. We then follow the CDC guidelines for deciding when the individual should leave isolation. These guidelines include ending isolation 10 days after symptoms first appeared, and after 24 hours with no fever and improving symptoms. Please note that CDC does not recommend repeating PCR testing as individuals may remain positive for up to 90 days even though they are no longer spreading COVID-19.

Annual Flu Shot. A reminder that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says getting a flu vaccine this season is more important than ever. An informative CDC primer on the similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 can be found here.

The flu vaccine is now widely available. For faculty and staff, the flu shot is being offered on campus and appointments are required. Please schedule your appointment here. Here’s a schedule of when and where flu shots are available on campus.

Date

Time

Location

Oct. 15

7 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Cambridge Office Building, room 112

Oct. 20

3 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Cambridge Office Building, room 110

Oct. 14, 20, 21

8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Cambridge Office Building 5th floor garage

Oct. 15, 19

7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Cambridge Office Building 5th floor garage

The quadrivalent flu shot is covered by our Aetna health plans and you can also get it through your doctor or pharmacy.

Students still needing a flu vaccine shot can schedule one at Student Health Services by calling (713) 348-4966. They can also get a shot by taking their insurance card to a local pharmacy. Proof of receiving the vaccine shot must be uploaded by October 30 at https://health.rice.edu/.

Kevin Kirby
Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee
Vice President for Administration