COVID-19 precautions during the holidays
Dear students, faculty and staff,
As Thanksgiving and winter holidays approach, it is important that we continue to use caution to prevent COVID-19 transmission, increase testing to identify individuals before they have symptoms and remain diligent in our safety practices.
Last year, the holiday season led to the greatest increases in travel since the start of the pandemic, as loved ones gathered to celebrate from all corners of the country. A few weeks later, the U.S. reported record numbers of positive cases on a single day. This trend was similar within our UIC community.
This year, COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and the majority of our campus community is vaccinated. However, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Chicago area, with an increase in cases and test positivity in the last few weeks. While at UIC the number of cases has remained consistent, our test positivity has mirrored that of the city overall, reaching a peak of 0.84% the week of Nov. 7-13 when compared to the previous nine weeks. Historically, the greatest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases occurred in the winter months of November and December 2020, and January 2021 in Chicago, a trend that was seen across the country.
We want to remind you of the following guidance to keep you, your friends and family, and the UIC community safe as we prepare for the holidays:
- Get tested 48-72 hours before leaving campus and upon return. Testing is especially important when multiple households are gathering, and even more important when they are gathering from different states or countries. Testing is helpful even if you are vaccinated; your risk of getting COVID-19 is low but not zero.
- Saliva testing is quick, convenient, and no appointment is required. Please visit the saliva testing website for holiday hours and locations.
- Limit unmasked interactions for 14 days prior to gathering to decrease the risk of bringing COVID-19 to a gathering or event.
- Get vaccinated if you are not already, and if you are eligible for the booster, consider scheduling it now. All those over 18 are eligible for the booster six months after the Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after the Johnson & Johnson shot.
- Wear a mask when indoors in public spaces, and in crowded indoor venues. Please remember that masks are to be worn inside any building at UIC and are only to be removed when alone in a private office or in personal residence hall rooms.
Please ensure that you are exercising caution in the upcoming weeks and winter months as we begin to gather more frequently indoors. Let’s continue to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe so that we can continue to enjoy in-person activities.
Robert Barish, MD, MBA
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Susan Bleasdale, MD
Chief Quality Officer and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Quality & Patient Safety