COVID-19 Update: Good News and Preparing for the Holidays

Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer | October 12, 2021

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As we prepare to move into the second half of the fall semester, I have much encouraging news to share on the COVID-19 situation.  The COVID-19 surge in Texas is abating and we should expect a continued positive trend through November.  However, there are some important actions to take before the holidays.

Decreasing COVID-19 Infections

When we started the fall semester, Texas was reporting about 11,500 COVID-19 cases per day and a positivity rate of 16.1%.  Last week, Texas reported about 5,380 cases per day and a positivity rate of 8.7%.  COVID-19 cases reported to Texas State University dropped from 559 cases in the first week of classes to 44 cases last week.  The positivity rate for on-campus testing fell from 9% in the first week of classes to 1% last week.  For more information about cases and positivity rates at Texas State, check the COVID-19 Dashboard on the Roadmap.  

No Significant On-Campus Transmission

Contact tracing continues to show no evidence of broad transmission occurring in classrooms or residence halls.  Most exposures are still occurring out in the community, within households, during gatherings of friends or family, or crowded indoor settings like bars.  

Vax for the Holidays to Prevent the Next COVID-19 Surge

Every major COVID-19 surge in this country has been driven by social gathering during holidays or spring break.  Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of spreading infections during the upcoming holidays.  Because it can take up to six weeks to get a two-shot series of vaccinations and develop full immunity, those that have not vaccinated need to start now.  It is expected that the FDA will authorize booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson later this month and Pfizer vaccinations for children aged 5-11 in the next few weeks.  If eligible for a booster, please get the booster before the holidays.  Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations are available at the Student Health Center Monday-Friday by calling for an appointment at 512-245-2161.

Testing to Find Silent Infections

An estimated 40% of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic.  Even vaccinated persons can get infected and spread the infection to others.  Periodic testing, regardless of vaccination status, can help us find silent infections.  Please get tested when you receive a notice from the university’s proactive, random testing program.  Testing after potential exposures in high-risk situations is important—after going to a bar or concert, traveling by airplane, bus, or train, or attending a crowded indoor social gathering.  Getting tested before the holidays is a great way to make sure we don’t spread infection to family and friends.  For more information on free COVID-19 testing on or near our campuses, check TXST COVID-19 Testing.  Persons who test positive for COVID-19 should report to Bobcat Trace as soon as possible and notify their professors and supervisors. 

New Medications to Treat COVID-19

While vaccinations remain the best way to bring the pandemic to an end, we now have several new medications to treat persons with mild to moderate disease who are at high risk for complications.  The FDA has authorized several monoclonal antibody treatments that can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 50-80%.  The FDA is also considering a request for an oral antiviral medication that has been shown to reduce hospitalization and death by 50%.  For more information on FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19, check Emergency Use Authorization | FDA.

What We Do Matters

COVID-19 has caused over 700,000 deaths in the United States.  With only 66% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated in the United States, more COVID-19 surges are possible.  We have the tools available to bring this pandemic to an end—but we must all do our part.  LET’S VACCINATE, TEST AND MASK UP TO STOP COVID-19!   


Dr. Emilio Carranco
Chief Medical Officer
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Director, Student Health Center