COVID-19 and Vaccination Updates
Dr. Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer and Director, Student Health Center | January 27, 2021
Dear Texas State Faculty, Staff and Students:
As we enter the second week of the spring semester, I want to update everyone on the COVID-19 situation and the status of the university’s mass vaccination plans for faculty, staff and students.
Current COVID-19 Situation
The country has just experienced the most serious COVID-19 surge since the start of the pandemic—driven primarily by social gatherings and travel over the holidays. Thankfully, it appears that we are beginning to see a drop in positive case counts and positivity rates in Texas suggesting that the COVID-19 surge may be abating. During the COVID-19 surge, positivity rates had been as high as 20.5% in Texas, 16.7% in Williamson County and 15.2% in Hays County. As of last week, positivity rates had dropped to 15.4% in Texas, 12.9% in Williamson County and 10.6% in Hays County. I expect the downward trends to continue over the coming weeks.
Texas State implemented additional mitigation measures at the start of the spring semester to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 surge on our campuses. Faculty, staff and students were instructed to get a COVID-19 test before returning to campus, professors were encouraged to use remote teaching during the first two weeks of the semester, workplace density was reduced and large gatherings or events were deferred. It appears our efforts were successful. During the first week of the spring semester, 1,559 COVID-19 tests were performed on campus with 74 positive tests resulting in a 4.7% positivity rate—much lower than the state positivity rate. As faculty, staff and students return to our campuses, we may see a temporary increase in positive cases, but I expect a downward trend thereafter. The Texas State COVID-19 Dashboard is updated regularly to provide information on the COVID-19 situation on campus.
COVID-19 testing remains a very important tool in our efforts to prevent the spread of infection. At least a third of infected persons are completely asymptomatic and have no idea they may be spreading infection. Testing before returning to campus and periodically throughout the semester is a great way to keep our campuses safe and to protect those we care about. The university will continue its proactive, random testing of faculty, staff and students during the spring semester. When you receive a notice to get a COVID-19 test, please complete the test during that week. COVID-19 testing has been expanded on our campuses.
- The San Marcos Campus has two COVID-19 testing sites—a kiosk at Flowers Hall and a mobile van at the Student Health Center parking lot. To schedule a test, click COVID-19 Test.
- The Round Rock Campus will be opening a new testing site located on the North Campus parking lot that will provide walk-up and drive-through testing options beginning February 1st. Testing will be available Monday-Thursday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturdays once per month from 10am to 6pm. No pre-registration is required.
Importance of Reporting in Bobcat Trace
Faculty, staff and students testing positive for COVID-19, or notified they are a close contact to a positive case, should report to Bobcat Trace as quickly as possible. Reporting to Bobcat Trace initiates contact tracing. After investigating a case, contact tracers will determine the need for isolation or quarantine and contact those impacted. Contact tracing allows us to break the chain of transmission.
Vaccination provides us with the best chance to bring this pandemic to an end. With vaccine distribution not progressing as rapidly as planned, federal and state governments are developing new strategies for increasing vaccinations. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is establishing Hub vaccination sites for mass vaccination of those who meet the priority group eligibility criteria. Vaccine allocations will be prioritized to the Hubs. Due to the uncertainty of when Texas State might receive vaccine, I encourage faculty, staff and students eligible for vaccinations to take action now to get vaccinated through a Hub or other provider that has vaccine. For more information on Hub vaccination sites and how to obtain a vaccination, click Texas COVID-19 Vaccination Information.
Texas State has developed a plan for mass vaccinations on our campuses and is prepared to begin vaccinations if vaccine is allocated by DSHS. A vaccination webpage will be available soon that will provide updated information on our vaccination plan and whether any vaccine has been received. The vaccination webpage will be linked to the Roadmap.
President Trauth has scheduled a Town Hall meeting on February 2nd at 4pm to share information about the COVID-19 situation and the university’s vaccination plan. Additional details will be provided soon.
While we work on vaccinating our communities, it is important to keep practicing the prevention measures that work—wearing face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene and avoiding social gatherings of any size if prevention measures are not being used.
I am hopeful that the rate of vaccinations across our state will increase and that vaccine supplies will improve in the coming weeks and months. If we commit to following prevention measures and taking advantage of vaccinations when they become available, we can help keep each other safe and bring this pandemic to an end.
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Chief Medical Officer
Director, Student Health Center