COVID-19 Update for the Texas State University Community
Dr. Emilio Carranco, Texas State University Chief Medical Officer, Director, Student Health Center | October 8, 2020
Dear Texas State Community,
As we approach the half-way point of the fall semester, I want to update you on the COVID-19 situation at Texas State University. The health and safety measures implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on our campuses appear to be effective thus far. I am proud of how our students, faculty and staff have adhered to the health and safety measures that are keeping our Bobcat community safe.
COVID-19 Testing Reveals Decline in Cases
COVID-19 testing is an important part of the university’s strategy for assessing the incidence of infection in our university community. The following positive case counts from testing performed at university and non-university sites show how the incidence of infection has changed since the start of the fall semester:
- First week of classes: 71 positive cases
- Fourth week of classes: 115 positive cases
- Sixth week of classes: 31 cases
At one point during the first six weeks of classes, the university had 165 active cases of COVID-19. As of October 6, 2020, the number of active cases had fallen to 47. The Department of Housing and Residential Life provided isolation and quarantine spaces for up 65 students at one point in September, but as of October 6, 2020, had 13 students in isolation or quarantine. Texas State’s COVID-19 Dashboard provides the university community with positive and active case counts that are updated regularly.
COVID-19 Testing Capacity Has Increased
Texas State partnered with Hays County Emergency Services, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Curative Inc. to bring free COVID-19 testing to the San Marcos campus beginning September 28th. During the first week of testing, 1,074 PCR tests were performed with 18 positive results for a 1.7% positivity rate. The World Health Organization states that a positivity rate of 5% or lower is an indication of sufficient testing and provides an assessment of COVID-19 transmission in the community.
Bobcat Trace and Contact Tracing Play an Important Role in Mitigating COVID-19
Bobcat Trace and contact tracing are important elements of the university’s strategy for preventing the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. It is vital that faculty, staff and students report to Bobcat Trace as soon as they are aware of a positive COVID-19 test result or that they have been identified as a close contact. Reporting to Bobcat Trace initiates the university’s contact tracing process. By quickly identifying and quarantining close contacts, the chain of transmission can be stopped. The university has increased its contact tracing team from eight to 18. Contact tracers have all been trained using the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health contact tracing program. To date, contact tracing has not revealed any evidence of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms. While there have been some instances of roommate transmission in the residence halls, contact tracing has not revealed any evidence of COVID-19 transmission across the residence halls.
Young Adults Are Not Immune
Overall, Texas State’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies appear to be working. However, there are a couple of concerns that I would like to address. Early in the pandemic, it was thought that older persons with underlying medical problems were most likely to experience serious complications from COVID-19 and that young adults should not be as concerned. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that young adults can have serious complications from COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization. It is important for everyone to follow the recommended COVID-19 health and safety measures.
Safe Social Gathering
Much of the transmission we are seeing now is driven by exposure during social gatherings. Anyone that is not a roommate or member of your household has the potential to expose you to infection—even if they are friends or family. It is important to follow prevention measures even when off-campus. Social gathering can be done safely but face masks should be worn, physical distancing maintained, good hand hygiene observed, high-touch surfaces disinfected and large gatherings avoided when safety measures aren’t being followed. Prevention measures can be difficult to maintain in all settings—but not impossible.
The pandemic will come to an end and better days are ahead. The COVID-19 health and safety measures are helping us prevent the spread of infection. Let’s continue to do all we can to keep our Bobcat and local communities safe!
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Texas State University Chief Medical Officer
Director, Student Health Center