10.20.21: An Update From the COVID Response Team

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community and Lehigh families. 

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

COVID case counts remain low on campus, with 4 active cases among students living on and off campus and 1 active case among faculty and staff. There are no updates to the campus status at this time. Northampton County remains an area with high transmission, reporting 559 new cases over the last 7 days as of October 20. We remind all members of the campus community to follow the university’s health and safety protocols so we can continue in a positive direction this semester. 

Symptomatic Testing - Increased Turnaround Times

Due to changes in the allocation of rapid test supplies to local healthcare entities and the subsequent reduced availability of the rapid Cepheid tests the Health and Wellness Center uses for symptomatic COVID testing, symptomatic students who are tested at the HWC may experience longer turnaround times. Students awaiting test results should self-isolate until they have received their results, which for some tests may take 24-48 hours. We are continuing to monitor testing turnaround times, and all students with symptoms should continue to contact the Health and Wellness Center to arrange for testing. As a reminder, students are required to report any positive tests received outside of the Health and Wellness Center through the Patient Portal.  

Surveillance Testing

We continue with weekly mandatory surveillance testing of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions, as well as testing of 10% of the vaccinated student population. If you are a) unvaccinated and have an approved exemption, or b) are vaccinated and have been randomly selected to test, you MUST schedule and keep your testing appointment. For students, non-compliance will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations, which could result in suspension from the university. For faculty and staff, non-compliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

Mask Requirement

Northampton County is still noted as an area with high transmission; given CDC guidance, masks continue to be required indoors in public spaces at Lehigh for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. This includes in classrooms, shared offices, laboratories, meeting spaces and fitness areas, as well as on buses.  

Mask-wearing protects all members of our community and enables us to hold in-person activities safely. We expect all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks properly over the mouth and nose wherever masks are required. In the event that a student refuses to wear a mask or fails to wear one properly during in-person classroom instruction, faculty and instructors are responsible for enforcing this critical policy. Faculty should ask students to leave class if they violate masking guidelines. Supervisors are also expected to enforce mask-wearing in workspaces. Any member of the campus community can and should report violations of the masking policy and other health and safety protocols. Please make every effort to keep our campus safe. 

Flu Vaccines

We strongly encourage all eligible members of our community to receive a flu vaccine this fall to avoid serious illness. Our October 12 on-campus flu vaccine clinic for students was a great success with approximately 1,240 students who received the flu vaccine. Faculty and staff can receive their shots at a walk-in flu vaccine clinic on October 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the STEPS tent. Flu shots also are available at local pharmacies. Please consider getting this important annual vaccine. 

Temperatures in the Lehigh Valley have started to drop, which means more time spent indoors, increased density and increased risk of the transmission of COVID, influenza and other illnesses. For your own well-being and the well-being of others, please continue to follow health and safety protocols and health hygiene, monitor your own health, stay home when you feel sick and get tested if you experience COVID-like symptoms. Thank you for your continued vigilance. 

-COVID Response Team