|Message Sent To:||All Faculty, All Staff|
|Message From:||Message from the Office of the President|
|Date Sent:||Thursday, February 11, 2021 02:00 PM CST|
Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, Surveillance Testing
February 11, 2021
Dear Faculty and Staff,
For those who are working on our campuses and have made COVID-19 surveillance testing a part of your weekly routine, the University thanks you deeply. It’s been five weeks since we officially launched our enhanced surveillance testing program, and the results so far are extremely encouraging. Last semester we completed over 5,000 tests; we are now performing nearly 6,000 tests per week. In the past 31 days, Loyola University Chicago has already administered 21,157 saliva-based surveillance and antigen diagnostic tests and only identified 85 positive cases. Our campus positivity rate over the past seven days sits at 0.37 percent. Though the rate can fluctuate, keeping it low will allow us to continue with our gradual and phased plan to increase campus operations.
We understand that faculty and staff are eager for information about COVID-19 vaccinations. Working with our partners at the Loyola University Medical Center, we were able to identify and document approximately 3,000 students, faculty, and staff who are eligible for vaccine priority in Phase 1A (health care settings) and 1B (frontline essential personnel), given their roles on our campuses. We are encouraging anyone eligible for the vaccine at this time to persevere and schedule a vaccination as soon as they can with their health care provider, pharmacy, or other vaccination sites, but to also practice patience along the way.
The city of Chicago’s current guidance will allow for most Loyola faculty and staff who have not already been vaccinated to be vaccinated in Phase 1C. Loyola will seek to prioritize those whose work responsibilities bring them into direct contact with others. State of Illinois guidance for vaccine distribution may be implemented differently by individual municipalities. Because we rely on the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) for guidance on vaccine allocation, Loyola is not at liberty to distribute vaccines freely like some other universities in the state of Illinois are doing at this time.
In the meantime, Loyola has been advocating that faculty, staff, and students whose work brings them in contact with others be prioritized for vaccinations in the current distribution phase (Phase 1B), similar to K-12 teachers and staff. Loyola is also making plans to become a vaccine distributor through the city of Chicago and/or Loyola Medicine. This will likely take months of planning and preparation and will require a sharp increase in the availability of vaccines. We will continue to monitor the vaccination rollout and will share new information as it becomes available.
In the meantime, strict adherence to our personal safety practices, testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation guidelines will be critical, especially as coronavirus variants begin to circulate in our region. As a reminder, you must continue to participate in our surveillance testing program even if you are vaccinated.
Additionally, new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that fully vaccinated persons are no longer required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19 if they meet certain criteria. We will continue to update our approach as we learn more and the guidance is updated.
We’re working hard to find creative ways to encourage students to follow Loyola’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, both in our residence halls and in the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, if you or someone you know doesn't understand how our surveillance testing program works, we’ve got plenty of resources to help. You can watch this short video tutorial on testing, read our Return to Campus checklist, skim our surveillance testing website, or drop an email to COVID-19testing@LUC.edu. There are informational flyers posted at campus building entrances, too. And don’t hesitate to ask questions! It’s our aim to make our phased reopening as painless and routine as possible.
Thanks again for all you do to make this University great.
Thomas M. Kelly
Senior Vice President for Administrative Services
Office of the President