COVID-19 Update and Spring Break Recommendations
Dr. Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer and Director, Student Health Center | March 3, 2021
Dear Texas State Faculty, Staff and Students:
As spring break approaches, I want to share some important updates on the COVID-19 situation and what we can expect in the months ahead as we work to bring the pandemic to an end.
Improving COVID-19 Situation
After the December-January surge, COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in Texas have decreased significantly. On January 3rd, Texas recorded a positivity rate of 21.0%. This past week, the positivity rates for Texas, Hays County and Williamson County were 9.9%, 8.9% and 8.3%, respectively. Texas State University began the spring semester with a positivity rate of 4.7% which has decreased to 2.3% this past week. If we continue to follow prevention measures, especially the use of face coverings and physical distancing, we can keep COVID-19 positivity rates in the low range which will allow us to slowly expand activities on our campuses. To monitor the COVID-19 situation at Texas State, check the COVID-19 Dashboard.
More COVID-19 Testing Leads to Less Spread
If we want to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important to test and report to Bobcat Trace as soon as possible if positive. I want to encourage you to test for COVID-19 regularly during the spring semester because you can be infected without knowing it. When you receive an e-mail notice to get tested as part of the university’s proactive, random testing, please complete the test that week. The testing data helps to inform university decisions—including decisions to expand activities on campus. For information about free COVID-19 testing on our campuses, check TXST COVID-19 Testing.
While COVID-19 positivity rates have been declining, transmission levels remain in the moderate to high range across Texas and most of the United States. Travel may increase your risk of getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that you not travel at this time. For those that must travel, it is important to follow CDC Travel Guidance. However, other activities such as social gatherings, going to amusement parks or movie theaters, or dining inside a restaurant can also increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19. To protect our university community and prevent the spread of infection, faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test either before returning to our campuses or during the week after spring break. In addition to free on-campus testing sites, you can check TX COVID-19 Testing Sites or Curative COVID-19 Testing Sites for other options.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to provide a third option for vaccination. This one-shot vaccine also has an excellent safety profile and is very effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization. As vaccine supply improves and eligibility groups are expanded, I would strongly encourage vaccination with any of the authorized vaccines when it is your turn. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has information about vaccination sites at TX COVID-19 Vaccine Information.
Prevention Measures Still Needed
The decrease in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates that we have experienced on our campuses is an indication that our prevention measures are working. The hard work of our faculty, staff and students has created an opportunity for Texas State. If we can continue to keep COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates low, the university can slowly begin the process of expanding activities on our campuses while maintaining a safe environment. However, we need to keep practicing the prevention measures that work—especially wearing face coverings, physical distancing and hand hygiene.
While we still have challenges ahead with COVID-19, we have more reasons than ever to believe that we can bring this pandemic to an end. Let’s be safe during spring break, get tested when we return, and continue our commitment to keeping ourselves and those we care about safe as well.
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Chief Medical Officer
Director, Student Health Center