July COVID Update

COVID-19 Update

Dear students, faculty and staff,

We continue to closely monitor the Houston area COVID-19 situation and we want to keep you updated. The public data sets that we have relied upon to track the COVID-19 situation are becoming less informative as more people use self-administered antigen tests. These results go largely unreported to government entities, and as a result, the total number of positive tests and positivity rates are less reflective of prevalence in the community. The CDC launched a nation-wide program in 2020, the National Wastewater Surveillance System, as another very accurate way to track the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The City of Houston and several Rice faculty members are part of that program and you can see the Houston data here. This information has been a leading indicator of each wave in Houston and the July 4 data suggests we are in another wave that may be beginning to crest, as reflected by the green line in the chart below:

Based on this data CDC recommendations for Harris County as well as data compiled through wastewater surveillance and the Texas Medical Center, we are encouraging – but not requiring – everyone to carry masks at all times on campus and use their best judgment on when it’s appropriate to wear a mask – on or off campus. For people who have special health concerns or want a higher level of protection, a well fitted KN95 mask offers good protection for the user and significantly better than cloth and disposable surgical masks. We have a good supply of masks which you can order here.

The Crisis Management Advisory Committee has several meetings planned over the coming weeks to monitor the evolving situation, develop policies for the fall semester (e.g., masks and gathering sizes), and plan the logistics to support the decisions.

For the moment, at-home COVID antigen test kits remain available for the Rice community. These kits can be ordered for pickup on campus. Each test package contains two testing kits, and you can order up to two packages (in other words, four testing kits) each month. To order testing kits or masks, please follow the instructions found on this coronavirus.rice.edu page.

If you would like to take a COVID PCR test, there are several testing centers near campus:

Houston Methodist Smith Tower - 6550 Fannin, Smith Tower, Suite 630;
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday 7:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m.
(346) 356-4000

CVS Pharmacy - Kirby at Bolsover - By appointment. (713) 522-3983

Walgreens Pharmacy - 7929 Kirby Ave. - (713) 383-0292

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic - 2727 W. Holcombe - (713) 442-5100

If you feel sick, believe you’ve been exposed, or have tested positive for COVID, please visit the coronavirus.rice.edu page for instructions. This site includes information and instructions about what to do should you fall into any of these categories.

The following is a list of university resources if you have questions:

  • Work-related illness or employment-related vaccine questions should be directed to Human Resources at (713) 348-2514
  • Student related vaccine questions should be directed to Student Health Services at (713) 348-4966
  • Questions about ordering COVID antigen test kits or KN95 masks should be directed to Delivery Services at (713) 348-2888
  • Questions regarding COVID planning for campus events should be directed to Campus Events at (713) 348-3306
  • For information information on what to do if you feel ill, if you have been exposed, or if you have tested positive, visit the coronavirus.rice.edu page
  • For other COVID related questions, please contact Rice Crisis Management at (713) 348-6088.

For the safety of the Rice community, please continue monitoring your health, stay home if you are ill, and wear a mask whenever it’s appropriate.

Rice Crisis Management Advisory Committee (CMAC)