Dear Macalester Community,

We are grateful for the ways you continue to show a commitment to keeping each other safer. The upholding of our Mac Stays Safer 2.0 Community Commitment has enabled us to experience the joys of in-person living and learning. As we move further into the semester, we are faced with another difficult phase of this pandemic. COVID-19 vaccination rates in Minnesota continue to rise and the vaccine authorization for kids in the 5 to 11 year age category is encouraging. On the other hand, the Delta variant has driven state case numbers to nationally high levels and led to crowded hospital occupancy.

The recent steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Ramsey County and the rest of the state are cause for concern. Our campus community has not been spared from these trends, with seven positive cases (five students and two employees) reported in the past seven days. Our COVID Case Management (CCM) team has provided student support for those in isolation. A subset of the cases represent a cluster of known close relationships and the likely exposure for the others was traced to off-campus sources. Our contact tracing efforts have been coordinated with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MDH also provided additional resources to allow for pop-up clinics to meet the surge in testing that was recommended for close contacts 5-7 days after exposure.

Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

Given the current situation, we want to remind you of resources and public health actions you can use to minimize coronavirus spread.

  • Get a booster shot, if you qualify!

    • The Hamre Center for Health and Wellness plans to host a COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic for students only on November 30. Details will be announced once vaccine supply has been confirmed.

    • Employees can identify a location for booster shots at this link.

    • The criteria for booster eligibility can be confusing. Here are bullet points from the weekly MDH call for institutions of higher education:

      • Students, faculty, and staff in higher education settings like Macalester qualify for a COVID-19 booster shot. Representatives of MDH have made this point clear.

      • Those that received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.

      • People who got the Johnson & Johnson shot, which is available only to adults, are eligible for a booster.

      • Those getting boosters can select any of the three vaccine brands. Mixing brands of vaccines is okay; the best booster to get is the one that is most convenient for you.

  • If you test positive you should share this information with and enter isolation; doing so is part of our community commitment and facilitates contact tracing to minimize transmission.

  • If you don’t feel well or have COVID-19, cold, or flu-like symptoms, stay home and seek out a COVID-19 test. Please don’t assume that your symptoms are “just a cold.” QR codes for convenient free-of-charge, state-supplied at home PCR tests are now posted in multiple locations on campus, including outside of the Hamre Center.

  • Macalester will continue its indoor masking policy as part of a layered approach to limiting coronavirus spread. Wearing a well-fitted mask reduces the spread of coronavirus as well as other respiratory diseases.

  • Get a flu shot. A flu shot prevents the spread of illness, which reduces the overall burden on healthcare, testing resources, and your own anxiety. Flu shots are still available at the Hamre Center and at local pharmacies and clinics.

  • With the recent uptick in cases, avoid visiting bars, crowded indoor restaurants, or other venues with large crowds, especially when the vaccination status of attendees is unknown.

Thanksgiving Break

If visiting with those outside of your day-to-day interactions, lay low before you go and get a COVID-19 test. Remember that those without symptoms can be infectious and take the coronavirus home or elsewhere.

  • We encourage the use of the free “at home” COVID-19 testing resource provided by the state.

    • Typically, if you place an order today, you will receive the test kit via DoorDash within 24 hours.

    • Your sample is shipped to the lab using a prepaid UPS envelope and results are available 24-36 hours after receipt at the lab.

    • There is a UPS drop box in the Campus Center vestibule. Packages are picked up each day at noon.

  • Following MDH recommendations, we will not be hosting an on-campus COVID-19 testing event prior to the break.

Macalester is a residential college that does not fully “shut down” during Thanksgiving Break.

  • The Hamre Center will be open for normal hours through Tuesday, November 23.

Wednesday, November 24 through Sunday, November 28, please see Laurie Hamre Center for Health & Wellness website for community resources or call the Hamre Center at 651-696-6275 and follow the voice prompts to connect with 24/7 mental health (Press 2) and physical health resources (Access Nurse).

  • Students will have access to Café Mac:

    • Wednesday, November 24: Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m and Dinner: 5-7 p.m.

    • Thursday, November 25: Lunch/Dinner: 11 a.m.-3 p.m; and, students will have the option of taking an 8×8 clamshell to-go following their mid-day meal in the Café

    • Friday, November 26 through Sunday, November 28: Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m and Dinner: 5-7 p.m.

    • On Sunday, November 28, The Grille will also be open from 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

We are grateful to belong to this community and appreciate your continued support and care for one another as we navigate the current phase of the pandemic.

Wishing you well.

Paul Overvoorde, PhD, Director of COVID Operations, Professor of Biology
Steph Walters, MD, MPH, Interim Executive Director of the Hamre Center for Health and Wellness

Published: 11/16/2021