Important New COVID-19 Information
Dr. Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer | March 30, 2022
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
I want to thank you for your efforts throughout this pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. Much has changed and I want to update you on the latest developments regarding COVID-19.
COVID-19 Situation Significantly Improved
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly. Safe and effective vaccines are widely available for those 5 and older. Several treatments for COVID-19 have been authorized/approved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established COVID-19 Community Levels, a new tool to help communities determine appropriate prevention steps. The counties around our campuses are currently designated as “Low.”
Omicron BA.2 Subvariant Causing Concern
The Omicron subvariant BA.2 has become the dominant strain worldwide and is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States within the next few weeks. Omicron BA.2 is causing surges in cases in Europe and Asia. Medical experts anticipate that we will see an increase in cases. Omicron BA.2 is more contagious than the original Omicron but does not appear to cause more severe illness. Given the possibility of an increase in cases, the university will continue its current mitigation strategies.
Vaccine Boosters Essential for Best Protection
Currently approved m-RNA vaccines are effective against Omicron BA.2 and remain the safest way to develop immunity. However, for the best protection, persons must get a booster. Studies indicate that vaccine effectiveness decreases 4-5 months after a booster. The CDC has now approved a second booster of Pfizer or Moderna for persons 50 and older to be administered at least four months after the first dose. The Student Health Center continues to provide COVID-19 Vaccinations. Call 512-245-2161 to make an appointment.
On-Campus Testing Still Available
Curative and MD Diagnostics continue to provide COVID-19 Testing on our campuses. However, free testing for uninsured persons will no longer be available at the Curative or MD Diagnostics testing sites. Federal funds for reimbursing tests have been discontinued. However, free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests can be requested from the federal government at covidtests.gov. Uninsured students seeking testing may also request a free at-home rapid antigen test at the Student Health Center Pharmacy in San Marcos or the Student Health Center Clinic in Round Rock while supplies last. Persons with insurance are encouraged to continue using Curative and MD Diagnostics for testing. Students who want to be evaluated and tested due to symptomatic illness may contact the Student Health Center at 512-245-2161 to schedule an appointment.
The university will continue its proactive testing program. Persons who receive an email and meet eligibility criteria for free testing through the on-campus Curative or MD Diagnostics testing sites are encouraged to get tested. The information obtained through this testing program will assist in determining the incidence of COVID-19 in our campus community and help inform university decisions. Persons with a positive test should follow CDC Guidelines for isolation, report to Bobcat Trace, and notify their professors or supervisors.
Use Effective Mitigation Measures as Conditions Warrant
While the COVID-19 situation is much better and we have effective tools for preventing infection and severe illness, we must remain vigilant. COVID-19 will continue to circulate globally. It will cause periods of increased illness and new variants may emerge. We must be prepared to implement the mitigation measures we know work—vaccination, face masks and testing.
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Chief Medical Officer
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Director, Student Health Center