11.17.21: Update from the COVID Response Team

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

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday and the events of Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry Weekend, we remind everyone to continue to prioritize health and safety. A slight increase in cases on campus, with a total of 7 active cases among students living on or off campus and 2 among faculty and staff, as well as rising case numbers in Northampton County, reminds us that COVID remains a concern. Please make thoughtful decisions about your activities, especially if you plan to travel home to see family and friends in the coming days.   

  • Northampton County remains an area of high transmission, with a 7-day average of 108 cases per day, a 41% increase from the average two weeks ago. Similarly, Pennsylvania has seen a 79% increase in the last week. 
  • Vaccination continues to protect members of our community from severe illness. We encourage all those who are eligible to receive a vaccine booster to do so. 
  • There are no changes to our campus status at this time.  

Lehigh-Lafayette Weekend & Thanksgiving 

The events of the coming weekend are an exciting and important Lehigh tradition, and this will be the first Rivalry experience for many members of our community. As you participate and celebrate, please be mindful. We encourage you to participate in outdoor activities that present a lower risk of COVID transmission. If you do gather indoors, lower-density gatherings are best, and mask-wearing is essential. 

Contracting the virus in the days ahead will impact your health, travel and plans to gather with family and friends. Please help reduce the risk of transmission within the Lehigh community and beyond our campus. Have fun this weekend while keeping the bigger picture in mind.  

This New York Times article provides some helpful tips for a safe holiday and reminds us of the balance and considerations required of living with COVID as part of our daily lives.

Mental Health and Wellness

The pandemic and its related challenges can take a toll. If you or someone you care about has concerns about mental health, help is available. Students can contact the university’s Counseling & Psychological Services (UCPS) at (610) 758-3880 or via email at incso@lehigh.edu wherever they are—on or off campus or at home. Eligible employees and their dependents have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) managed by Uprise Health (formerly Integrated Behavioral Health or IBH), which provides confidential access to professional counseling services. Please don’t hesitate to seek help when you need it.  

Reminder to Faculty and Instructional Staff

As communicated in September, all instructors should be regularly checking the status of their course sections via the personalized Argos dashboard, which provides notifications of new and active positive cases in a class. In the event of a positive case, the instructor must notify all students in the class. Not every individual in the classroom will be considered a close contact and notified by the Health and Wellness Center. More information about this process can be found here

Surveillance Testing (Asymptomatic)

This week, we continue mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions, as well as mandatory surveillance testing of 10% of vaccinated students. See below for additional surveillance testing information, including opportunities for students, faculty and staff to be tested before and after Thanksgiving break. Surveillance testing appointments are still available later this afternoon and on Thursday, Nov. 18. For other types of testing, including close contact testing, reminders for how to make an appointment can be found here.

We wish everyone a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving holiday. Go Lehigh! 

-COVID Response Team

Save/bookmark this link to sign up for optional surveillance testing when appointments become available closer to the offered testing dates; remember symptomatic and close contact testing are separate, and you should contact the Health and Wellness Center (students) or your personal healthcare provider (faculty and staff) if you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms.

Nov 15-18: Mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions continues. Mandatory surveillance testing of 10% of vaccinated students continues. Students, faculty and staff can register for one-time optional testing prior to Thanksgiving break. 

Nov. 22-23: Mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions continues. Due to the number of people leaving campus next week, we will discontinue mandatory surveillance testing of 10% of vaccinated students and offer one-time optional testing for any student who would like to be tested prior to leaving for Thanksgiving break. This opportunity is also open to faculty and staff. 

Nov. 29-Dec. 2: Mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions continues. We will resume testing of 10% of vaccinated students for this week and offer optional testing for students who have not been randomly selected and wish to be tested. This opportunity is also open to faculty and staff. 

Dec. 6-9 and Dec. 13-15: Mandatory testing of 100% of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with approved medical and religious exemptions continues. We will discontinue testing of 10% of vaccinated students and offer one-time optional testing for any student who would like to be tested prior to traveling home. This opportunity is also open to faculty and staff.