COVID-19 response weekly update: Week of February 15

COVID-19 response weekly update

COVID-19 Response Weekly Update: Feb. 15, 2021

Dear colleagues,

Well, today was a day that none of us expected. It was supposed to be the day that some of us returned to the classroom in person. Instead, we have now cancelled both in person and online classes for both Monday and Tuesday due to power outages and internet unreliability.

Then this morning came a call from Harris County Public Health. They had power outages and had vaccine supplies that had to get into people’s arms by mid-afternoon or they would go bad. They wanted to know if we could inoculate 800 people by using our own personnel who are authorized to vaccinate, and whether we wanted the doses. We said yes.

Within an hour we set up the vaccination site in the East Gym of Tudor Fieldhouse and staffed it with personnel. Given the limited supply, limited time (four hours to distribute before the vaccine expired) and dangerous road conditions, we offered the vaccine only to those we knew were on campus today – on-campus undergrads and essential personnel taking care of our people and the campus during this weather emergency. Over the course of four hours, we inoculated 800 people, but unfortunately had to turn away many hundreds more.

We still have no update from the state of Texas about when we will receive our requested allotment of vaccines. We have been able to facilitate limited vaccine access through our Texas Medical Center partners at off-campus locations for some people who are in the Phase 1A or Phase 1B priority categories.

If you are eligible for the vaccine under the state developed priorities and you can get it from any provider in the Houston area, don’t wait until we are able to provide it on campus. You can find designated vaccination hubs by county at this website.

If you have questions about the vaccination process at Rice, please visit the Rice vaccine FAQ website for answers to frequently asked questions.

Testing. The winter storm has caused Rice to pause SARS-CoV-2 testing on campus for both Monday and Tuesday. We hope to resume testing on Wednesday. Go to this website to reschedule your test. Those who have received the vaccination should continue to test regularly unless directed otherwise by someone from the Rice Crisis Management Team.

The COVID-19 environment continues to improve in Houston. At Rice over the last seven days, 10 people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus through Rice’s testing. You can see Rice’s testing statistics, along with isolation and quarantine data, on the COVID-19 website.

Requirements for quarantine change. The CDC has issued new guidance that “fully vaccinated persons who meet criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.” It’s somewhat complicated, and if interested, you can read the details here. The university implemented this guidance.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration