COVID-19 response weekly update: Week of January 11

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

The surge in positive tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that so many people were concerned about over the year-end holidays has become a reality, both in Houston and in the Rice community. Over the last two weeks, 53 people tested positive through Rice’s testing – and this was during a period when there was little activity on campus. Most of these positive tests came from people who developed symptoms over the holidays. This is different from the fall semester when most of the people who tested positive were asymptomatic. You can see Rice’s testing statistics, along with isolation and quarantine data, on the COVID-19 website: https://coronavirus.rice.edu.

These changes in the Houston environment led President Leebron to announce some significant changes to the start of the spring semester. You can read his letter here.

Testing. Faculty, staff, and students who plan to work and live on campus at least two days per week through Feb. 15 should schedule COVID-19 testing twice a week, with at least three days between tests. You can schedule a test at https://coronavirus.rice.edu/testing-resources.

Please remember that we have consolidated our testing sites into two locations: Baylor Genetics at the East Gym (self-administered) and Methodist Hospital at the Abercrombie site (staff-administered).

If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believe you’ve been exposed to someone who’s positive, do not sign up through the regular testing process. There is a special process for testing anyone with symptoms or post-exposure. Fill out a health report form and someone from the Rice Contract Tracing Team will guide you through the testing process.

Vaccines. We’re receiving a lot of questions about when COVID-19 vaccines will be available on campus. State governments are managing the distribution of the vaccines. We have applied to the State of Texas for enough doses to vaccinate our entire population of students, faculty, and staff. We have not yet received word about when we will get our allocation of vaccines, but as President Leebron mentioned in last week’s letter to the campus community we hope they will arrive sometime in February.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration