COVID-19 response weekly update: COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and outdoor tents

COVID-19 response weekly update

October 19, 2020

Dear colleagues,

This week I have updates on COVID-19 testing, a request for help with contact tracing and a reminder – and some news – about the outdoor tents.

Testing. Over the last seven days, we tested about 4,800 people. Five people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rice’s testing statistics, along with isolation and quarantine data, can be found on the COVID-19 website: https://coronavirus.rice.edu.

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 the security code received in your email). 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.

Contact Tracing. Rice uses a variety of tools to mitigate the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of the most important tools is contact tracing, a core disease control measure that’s been used by public health agencies for decades. With contract tracing, a person who’s been diagnosed with a SARS-CoV-2 infection – whether symptomatic or asymptomatic – is asked to identify people who may have been infected through close contact with them. It is critical that the information provided is thorough and accurate. This lets other people know they may have been exposed to the virus and should monitor their health for symptoms of COVID-19. It also allows them arrange for appropriate testing. Contact tracers ask people to isolate if they have COVID-19 or quarantine if they’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive. You can learn more about contract tracing in an informative document from the CDC.

We’re looking for volunteers who would like to help us with contact tracing, 10 to 20 hours per week, with your supervisor’s permission if you’re an employee. Here’s a link to the job description. If you would like to help out, you’ll be asked to take an informative John Hopkins training course, which takes about seven hours. We’ll be hosting an information session via Zoom this Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. It can be accessed here.

We are also looking for volunteers to help staff our call center to answer questions about testing, health monitoring and other COVID-19 response matters. This is a part-time role, about 10 hours per week. Here’s a link to the job description. This position will also be discussed in the Wednesday information session mentioned above.

If you would like to volunteer, we appreciate your help keeping the Rice community safe.

Tents. With our recent beautiful weather, I’d like to remind everyone that our campus has a number of new locations – both indoors and outdoors – that are open for events and studying. The four semi-permanent structures, also known as provisional campus facilities or PCFs, can host up to 50 people and they are equipped with dual-delivery audiovisual capability. If you’d like to hold an event in one of the PCFs, please submit a request form online on the events website. Study hours are available for all students in PCF-3 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6:30 pm until 10 pm. If you have not seen the recent art installations on and around the PCF’s, stop by or read this news release.

We also have five open-air tents located throughout the campus that can comfortably hold up to 25 people. Students can check out camping chairs they can use in these tents – or elsewhere on campus – from their residential colleges or from the Graduate Student Association.

Finally, we’re going to hold a contest to give each of these nine tents a name. We’ll announce details on the contest later, but we want to encourage everyone to start thinking now about what you’d like to name Rice’s tents.

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