UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With COVID-19 cases ticking up across Pennsylvania and the nation, health officials at Penn State are reminding the University community to continue to take precautions and personal health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral infections.
The University encourages Penn State students, faculty and staff to follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for COVID-19 prevention. These precautions include staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, getting tested for COVID-19 as needed and following recommendations if you have been exposed, have a confirmed or suspected case or are at high-risk of experiencing severe symptoms.
The CDC also recommends that individuals remain aware of their county’s COVID-19 Community Level. In counties with high COVID-19 levels, the CDC advises the wearing of a high-quality mask while in indoor public spaces.
“The newly dominant strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 is the most transmissible version we have seen yet. The good news is that it appears to be causing less severe disease than prior strains, but it is still a concern, particularly for high-risk individuals,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of the university’s COVID-10 Operations Control Center. “The best advice for protecting oneself and others remains the same — keep your vaccinations up to date, practice personal health precautions and good hand washing hygiene, get tested for COVID-19 and follow CDC recommendations when exposed or positive.”
COVID-19 tests and vaccines are widely available and typically covered by health insurance. The federal government is currently making available free of charge four at-home COVID-19 test kits for every household in the country. Tests can be ordered online at COVIDTests.gov.
Individuals with private health insurance coverage or who are covered by a group health plan also are eligible to have up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests covered by their insurance provider per month. Students who reside in residence halls may pick up a rapid test kit at commons desks at UP or at campus test locations.
Local vaccine site locations listed by a ZIP code search can be found online at Vaccines.gov. Additionally, at University Park, University Health Services can provide appointments for students to receive their first and second doses (primary series) of the Moderna vaccine as well as their booster, including the Moderna bivalent booster.
As another reminder, students can self-report a positive COVID-19 test using Penn State’s contact tracing referral form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More student information related to COVID-19 may be found at studentaffairs.psu.edu/covidsupport. Employees may still report positive COVID-19 tests to Occupational Medicine at 814-865-8612.
While cases of seasonal influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are trending downward in Pennsylvania and many parts of the country, public health experts are still advising that individuals take precautions to protect themselves and others from these viruses as well. Many of the same health precautions and personal hygiene measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19 are effective in mitigating the flu and RSV. And it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine, as the influenza virus will likely continue to circulate through the spring.