COVID-19 Update: Safe Holidays and the Flu

Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer | November 12, 2021


Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As the holidays approach, we continue to see encouraging trends around COVID-19.  However, the flu has arrived!  The Student Health Center reported several cases this week.  We must now face the challenge of two infections that cause very similar symptoms but require different testing and treatment. 

COVID-19 Transmission Levels Falling
COVID-19 case counts, positivity rates and deaths have all been trending downward for almost two months.  The Texas positivity rate this week has been 5.1%-5.7%.  On-campus testing positivity rates have been 1.1%-1.7% for the past month.  Falling positivity rates suggest that COVID-19 transmission levels are decreasing—welcome news as many prepare to travel.  For more information about cases and positivity rates at Texas State, check the COVID-19 Dashboard on the Roadmap.

Gathering Safely During the Holidays
While COVID-19 transmission levels are decreasing—the risk of exposure remains.  We know that past surges have been driven by social gathering during the holidays or spring break.  Here are some tips for reducing the spread of infection:

  • Get fully vaccinated and a booster when eligible
  • Wear a face mask in crowded public indoor settings
  • Get a COVID-19 test before gathering with family/friends
  • Get a COVID-19 test after high-risk activities such as going to a bar or concert, traveling by airplane/bus/train, or attending a crowded indoor social gathering
  • Stay home if sick and get tested if symptoms of COVID-19

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are available at the Student Health Center by calling for an appointment at 512-245-2161.  

For information on free COVID-19 testing on or near our campuses, check TXST COVID-19 Testing.  For free COVID-19 testing in other areas, check Curative Testingor TX COVID-19 Testing Sites.  Persons who test positive for COVID-19 should report to Bobcat Trace as soon as possible and notify their professors and supervisors.

Travel Considerations
Before traveling, it is important to be familiar with testing or vaccination requirements—especially for international travel.  Persons traveling within the United States should check Domestic Travel and those traveling internationally should check International Travel for the latest CDC recommendations.

Is it the Flu or COVID-19?
Influenza has arrived.  Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually begin abruptly.  Symptoms of the flu may include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting

COVID-19 causes the same symptoms as the flu.  If you develop these symptoms, please stay home and get tested for COVID-19 and the flu.  

Anti-viral treatments for the flu such as Tamiflu and Relenza can diminish the severity and duration of the flu when given within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.  Flu vaccination can help prevent infection and serious complications.  Flu vaccinations are recommended for persons 6 months of age and older and are available for faculty, staff and students at the Student Health Center by calling 512-245-2161.  

Monoclonal Antibody Treatments are available for persons who are at high risk for complications from COVID-19.  These treatments are effective when administered within 10 days of the onset of illness.  They must be ordered by a physician and are available at designated treatment sites. 

Prevention Still Matters
We have many reasons to be hopeful—COVID-19 transmission levels, hospitalizations and deaths are all falling, vaccines are proving to be safe and effective against COVID-19, and new oral treatments will be authorized over the next few months.  However, prevention still matters!  Vaccines are our best tool for ending this pandemic, but they are not magic shields.  We must continue wearing face masks in crowded public indoor settings and getting tested after high-risk activities.  If we have symptoms of a cold or the flu, we must also test to rule out COVID-19.  We must remain vigilante and take reasonable precautions to keep ourselves and those we care about safe.  So, this holiday season, LET’S VACCINATE, TEST AND MASK UP TO STOP COVID-19

Sincerely,

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