COVID-19 Update for Texas State Faculty & Staff
Dr. Emilio Carranco, Texas State University Chief Medical Officer, Director, Student Health Center | November 5, 2020
Dear Texas State Faculty, Staff and Students,
I want to update you on the COVID-19 situation and provide information on some challenges ahead. As we approach the holidays, there are signs that COVID-19 is increasing across Texas and the United States. While our health and safety measures have been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within our campus communities, we must increase our efforts in the months ahead.
COVID-19 Cases Have Decreased
As the Texas State COVID-19 Dashboard illustrates, robust testing continues and new cases of COVID-19 have declined over the past month—from a high of about eight cases per day to three cases per day last week. These case counts include positive cases tested at the Student Health Center and the Curative Inc. kiosk, as well as cases reported from testing performed at off-campus sites. While some tests performed at off-campus sites may not have been reported to the university, the decrease in case counts is reassuring and consistent with what has occurred in Hays and Williamson counties over the past month.
COVID-19 Incidence Remains Low
COVID-19 testing on the San Marcos Campus has been significant with over 1100 faculty, staff or students being tested on a weekly basis. The number of positive tests has decreased from 30 in one week a month ago to five last week. The positivity rate (number of positive tests/total tests) has also decreased from 2.5% to 0.4%. The demographics of students tested reveals that they are reflective of the student community with a mix of students living on and off-campus and taking in-person or online classes. The data shows that the incidence of COVID-19 remains low in our student community. Contact tracing continues to show no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms, offices or across residence halls.
Texas State Testing Is Important
COVID-19 testing helps the university to identify positive cases, assess the incidence of infection in our university community and inform institutional decisions. A random sample of faculty, staff and students will be selected weekly for Free COVID-19 Testing during the fall semester. It is important that persons selected for free testing complete the testing during the same week. If you receive a positive test for COVID-19, or are notified that you are a close contact of a positive case, please report to Bobcat Trace as soon as possible. Rapid contact tracing can help us break the chain of transmission.
Testing will be expanded as free COVID-19 testing will be offered on the Round Rock Campus. Preparations are in the final stages and details will be shared soon.
Preparing for Spring Semester
As the university prepares for the spring semester, it is taking several steps to enhance its COVID-19 plans: 1) the Health, Safety and Wellness Work Group is reconvening to review current health and safety protocols and to determine what additional measures should be implemented, 2) a COVID-19 Vaccination Work Group has been established to develop plans for administering the vaccine when it becomes available next year, and 3) a COVID-19 Communications Work Group will be established to improve communication regarding COVID-19.
Thanks to the efforts of our faculty, staff and students, Texas State has been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our campus communities thus far. However, there are significant challenges ahead. COVID-19 infection is spreading across the country. We may begin to see an increase in cases in our area in the coming weeks. Research shows that infections are being spread within family and friend circles during social gatherings. There is concern that the holidays will lead to significant increases in COVID-19. We must be even more committed to prevention measures such as wearing face masks, social distancing, hand hygiene and avoiding crowds. If you are hosting or attending a social gathering, it is important to assess the risks and take steps to make it a safer social gathering. Please review Tips for Safer Social Gatherings and use the information to make your social gathering safer for everyone.
While there are challenges ahead, there are also reasons to be hopeful. We know that face masks and social distancing work if practiced consistently. We are learning to treat and manage serious COVID-19 cases much better than before. Vaccines may be available in just a few months; so, there are better days ahead. Let’s keep working to stop COVID-19!
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Texas State University Chief Medical Officer
Director, Student Health Center