Dec. 7, 2021
TO: USC Students, Faculty and University Staff
RE: Health Advisory and the Close of the Fall Semester
FR: Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health
Deona Willes, MPH, CLS, Executive Director, USC Environmental Health and Safety
As you may be preparing for entering finals and start of winter break, we are sharing important news and updates regarding health and safety.
As you may have seen in the COVID-19 update from yesterday, the LA County Dept. of Public Health identified the Omicron variant in an individual case of a college student who recently returned from air travel during holiday break. The individual is currently isolating and doing well. The case was detected as part of USC’s routine surveillance testing program; all campus close contacts have been identified, were notified, and are in quarantine. The individual did not attend classes or organized activities on campus during their infectious period.
Omicron has been identified in multiple states of the U.S. in the past few days, and additional cases may be expected over the next weeks. For additional information on the Omicron variant, please see the California Dept of Public Health fact sheet.
SURVEILLANCE TESTING (“Pop Testing”) AND OTHER PROTECTIONS
The Pop Testing surveillance program continues to be an effective tool in capturing and containing spread of COVID-19 in our community. We remind students to continue with the weekly requirement as directed, and also remind faculty and staff that this program is available to you. Holiday hours will be in effect after December 17; please check the schedule for hours of availability. The Trojan Check ambassadors at the perimeter gates are a valued front line of defense. We appreciate their efforts and our community responds with courtesy, respect, and appreciation for their work.
These programs and other layers of protection have allowed campus to remain fully operational in-person all semester and through the end of year finals and final projects. In-person classes, exams, and programs remain uninterrupted through the end of this semester.
Self-monitoring for symptoms is also essential, as is self-isolation when you are feeling sick. Stay home from class or work if you have symptoms; do not travel or attend holiday gatherings if you have symptoms, especially if unvaccinated individuals are in attendance.
Getting a booster shot for COVID-19 is strongly recommended. Although data is still emerging on the Omicron variant and vaccines, the predominant circulating strain of COVID-19 is the Delta variant. Getting a booster shot is an important action you can take to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19, help stop COVID-19 infections in the community, and reduce the opportunity for variants to mutate as it is circulating.
· Complete your flu vaccine. NOTE: Trojan Check will activate check for flu compliance on December 17, 2021. Getting your flu vaccine earlier in the season provides better protection for you, and for the community.
· Consider CDC Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays to minimize risk to family and friends during celebrations.
§ Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
§ Outdoors is safer than indoors. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
§ If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
§ Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
In cooperation with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, we will continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19 and share factual information and research-based recommendations with our community as new details are confirmed.
We wish you a safe, enjoyable, and happy winter break.