Campus Safety Message from Dr. Huda Sharaf: January 7, 2022
Campus Safety Message from Dr. Huda Sharaf
January 7, 2022
On Wednesday, you heard from the chancellor, provost and emergency manager with a timely reminder about our expectations for the Spring semester. I’d like to reinforce my concurrence that the campus can remain safe when we follow the key strategies for mitigating COVID-19.
- We continue to strongly encourage vaccination and booster shots, which we know to be among the best strategies for mitigation of the virus, along with frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer and masks. Pat Walker Health Center continues to keep COVID-19 and flu vaccines in stock for our campus community.
- Masking is required inside the classrooms at all times and inside educational and general-purpose buildings when 6-foot separation cannot be maintained.
- University guidelines for isolation time, for those who receive a positive test result, as well as quarantine time, for unvaccinated individuals with close contact to positive cases, remains at 10 days. However, we are evaluating the new CDC guidance for the general public (isolation times shortened from 10 to five days, with five days of diligent masking following) and awaiting additional guidance specific to institutions of higher education.
- Testing for COVID-19 is available at Pat Walker Health Center and throughout our community.
- Also, please get a flu shot if you have not already done so.
We have been successful keeping our campus safe and believe that the majority of COVID-19 transmission is outside of the classroom in environments where masking is not being fully utilized.
We will continue to monitor the infection rate of the campus community and the surrounding region, as well as the burden on our medical community, especially hospitalizations. As of Thursday, Jan. 6, Northwest Arkansas hospitals were collectively caring for 85 COVID patients – slightly less than half of the all-time high on Aug. 11, 2021, when 173 patients were hospitalized throughout NWA.
I am encouraged by the most recent data from November that according to the Arkansas Department of Health, 73% of our employees are completely vaccinated (83.5% have had one dose), while 82.5% of our Arkansas students have had at least one dose of vaccine and 68% are fully vaccinated. Many have also received booster shots as well.
Please continue to follow the key strategies for mitigating the virus and help keep our community safe.
Huda Sharaf, MD, FACP
Pat Walker Health Center