Stay vigilant against COVID-19

Social times at work (e.g. coffee breaks, lunchtime) create opportunities for COVID-19 transmission. This is because when individuals are with trusted coworkers they relax, take their masks off and do not practice physical distancing. In fact, to a large extent, this is how COVID-19 has spread in the U.S., by individuals relaxing their vigilance with trusted friends and families and inadvertently infecting one another. 

Approximately 40% of all COVID-19 positive individuals have no symptoms at all; the tricky thing about COVID-19 is that individuals may test negative during the time they are spreading the virus or right before they begin to spread the virus, and also spread the virus to others before their symptoms start or even if they have no symptoms at all. This means that negative testing or being symptom-free may lead to false confidence that one has a “pass” to engage in risky behavior.

UIC contact tracing recently investigated several new cases linked through a shared workplace lounge where workers would eat lunch together. This recent set of linked cases was compounded by the fact that several people had received the partial vaccine, which gave them a false sense of security, and others ignored symptoms because they assumed they were allergies. We are seeing these trends  more commonly across campus, and as such, we want to remind you of the following:

  1. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself. However, even if you are vaccinated, you still need to continue masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene in public, including at work or school at UIC. To find out how to get vaccinated, click here.
  2. Once vaccinated, you still need to continue routine saliva testing
  3. Remember, you are not considered to have the full protection of the vaccine until 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose series, or 14 days after the only dose of a one-dose series.
  4. Remain cautious, even with trusted classmates or colleagues.
  5. No matter how mild, do not ignore your symptoms and come to work or class. Report them to campus here, and wait for guidance on whether or not you can return to campus. It should only take a few hours, at most 24-48 hours.
  6. If you are concerned about your ability to properly distance during breaks and mealtimes, please reach out to the office of EHSO through this confidential link

We know this has been a long year, and it feels good to do things that are normal, like having lunch at the same table with your colleagues. However, it is still early in our vaccine campaign, and community cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, making it more important than ever to practice caution. 

Thank you all for your continued support and contributions to keeping UIC safe as more individuals return to campus.

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