Dear Macalester Students, Staff, and Faculty:

This Sunday will be the last day of our Module 4 modified quiet period. This week’s return-to-campus testing shows that of the 856 logged results, there have been zero positive cases. These data depend on self-reporting of test outcomes through this Google Form. Please share that information if you have not already done so.

This low case number reflects our communal commitment to keeping each other safer and fuels a sense of hope that accompanies us into spring. We enter this module at a time when the rates of vaccination outpace the rates of new COVID-19 cases and the reporting about the pandemic is more optimistic. In order to continue to keep each other safer, we encourage you to do two things- get vaccinated and stay the course.

Get vaccinated

Today Governor Walz announced that starting next Tuesday, all those 16 and older in Minnesota will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of home state or citizenship status. We strongly encourage all members of the Mac community who can be vaccinated to to register right away with the State’s Vaccine Connector. In addition to alerting you to vaccine opportunities, registrant information provides demand information and helps guide where the limited vaccine supplies that arrive in the state are distributed. 

According to the state website:

“Not every eligible Minnesotan will immediately be able to make an appointment. Minnesota has directed providers to prioritize vaccine appointments for people most at risk of getting COVID-19, or those who could develop severe illness if infected. This includes older Minnesotans, those with underlying health conditions, and those in frontline jobs.”

Macalester is working hard to procure vaccines but at this time the state has not made an allocation to our campus. We will update the community if/when that changes.

In the meantime, here are suggestion for how to get your vaccine shot:

  • Use the Minnesota Vaccine Locator Map to find vaccine providers near you.
  • Use the CDC VaccineFinder to find pharmacy appointments near you.
  • Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.
  • Once registered with the Vaccine Connector,

    • Watch for email informing you about vaccine opportunities in your area.
    • You may be randomly selected to make an appointment at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program locations. If you are selected, you will be notified by text, email, or phone call by one of the state vaccination partners running those sites: Vault Health, Primary Bio, or SpeciaLysts (Solv).

Please let us know if you’ve received a vaccine by sharing by completing this simple form.

Stay the course

Despite our promising context, we recognize the proliferation of ever-changing guidelines can create confusion. Similar to the slight uptick in the state case numbers, our community also has seen more positive cases reported during the past week.

Throughout the pandemic, we have encouraged vigilance and persistence. We echo this call now. As more in-person gatherings take place, the continued practice of public health measures remains paramount. 

  • If you are not feeling well or have a known exposure to COVID, please seek out testing resources.  Students, please connect with the Hamre Center, which has seen a drop in the number of individuals seeking advice for symptoms. 
  • Report a positive COVID-19 test to contacttracing@macalester.edu.
  • Participate in contact tracing efforts. If you test positive, be forthcoming about who your close contacts (i.e. closer than 6-feet for 15 minutes or more) have been. 

    • We recognize that the flip-side to our messages of congratulations on low case numbers can also contribute to  a sense of shame if one tests positive. The reality is that we continue to live in a community where coronavirus, including the more effective spreading variants, is actively circulating. Being able to identify close contacts quickly is critical to preventing an outbreak. Private information about how someone has been a close contact does not need to be shared. 
    • The college is changing its approach to quarantine. Individuals who are identified as a close contact will be asked to quarantine for 10-days and will be urged to receive a COVID-19 test on day 7. If the result comes back negative, the person will exit quarantine, but will be asked to continue closely monitoring themselves for symptoms until day 14. This change is based on evidence that a shorter quarantine period lowers contact tracing barriers and encourages individuals to remove themselves from interacting with others.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Sincerely,

Steph Walters, MD, MPH
Paul Overvoorde, PhD
co-Chairs of the Infectious Disease Task Force

Published: 03/26/2021