UM COVID Communication: October 11, 2021

Missoula-Area COVID Cases Rise, Vaccination Provides Best Protection

Last Friday, Missoula County again broke several COVID-19 records, including the daily COVID-19 case count (178) and the incidence rate, which is now 96 cases per 100,000 prior per day over the last seven days. View Friday’s COVID-19 briefing from Cindy Farr, incident commander for MCCHD’s COVID-19 response.

This Covid data dashboard shows 113 active UM cases. This number reflects all reported positive UM affiliated cases. It does not account for those who test at home or for whom case investigation is not completed. There’s also no comprehensive data on how many people are in quarantine as close contacts to positive cases.

The available data indicate our campus community may not be as heavily impacted as the greater Missoula community, but UM is not an island: Everyone needs to work together to get COVID-19 case numbers down. Please continue to wear masks indoors and practice the other proven mitigations to keep COVID-19 transmission low: Wash your hands, keep your distance when possible, and keep your social circles small.

Vaccination offers the greatest protection against severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19. If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine or are seeking a Pfizer booster, the Health Services Pharmacy inside Curry Health Center provides vaccination on a walk-in basis during regular business hours daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 406-243-5171 if you have questions.

The process for receiving vaccination includes:

  • Completing a vaccine questionnaire with a few brief questions to determine if you can receive the vaccine that day. This will be reviewed by the health professional administering your vaccine.
  • You will receive information about the type of vaccine you are receiving.
  • You will need to remain on-site for 15 minutes after your shot for monitoring.

Pfizer seeks FDA Emergency Use Authorization for Child Vaccine

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they are seeking FDA emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. In late September, the companies submitted initial data from the Phase 2/3 trial of the vaccine in children 5 to under-12 years of age. Data from the full Phase 3 trial will be submitted for scientific peer-reviewed publication.

In anticipation of the request, the FDA scheduled a meeting of Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee to discuss the vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 on October 26.

Q: If the FDA grants emergency use authorization, when will the vaccine be available for children ages 5 to 11?

A:  Based on the timeline from the previous emergency use authorization, children may be able to receive the vaccine before the end of the calendar year, but the precise timeline is unknown.

Authorization Sought for Antiviral Drug Treatment

Pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced today that they are seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for molnupiravir, an antiviral drug that offers promise that COVID-19 could soon be treated by medication. An interim analysis from a clinical trial found the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by approximately 50%.

Answer That Call from Contact Tracers

Contract tracing is most efficient when individuals can be reached quickly over the phone. We are encountering issues with nonworking numbers in the directory. Please take a moment to ensure your contact information is current by logging into Cyberbear. Additionally:

  • County contract tracing calls will come from phone numbers beginning with 830-(XXXX) and 550-(XXXX).
  • Promptly return missed calls and voicemails from MCCHD personnel.

If You Test Positive for COVID-19 ...

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for 10 days, with the start/end dates determined in consultation with the country health department.

If you are a student:

  • If you live in a residence hall, UM Housing will arrange to move you to isolation, with meals supported by UM Dining.
  • If you live in UM Housing off-campus, or if you live in non-university housing, you will isolate in place.
  • Students should contact their course instructors to alert them of their absence in class and make arrangements for missed work, lecture notes or options for remote participation (if available).

If you are a UM employee:

  • Begin isolation per MCCHD orders.
  • Contact your supervisor regarding absence. If you are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms (such that you want to continue to work), you can discuss arrangements for remote work if appropriate.

If You are a Verified Close Contact to a Positive Case

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • You will be asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 but are not required to quarantine unless symptoms develop. Depending on testing availability, MCCHD-verified close contact can seek a COVID test three to five days after exposure.**

If you are partially or unvaccinated:

  • You will be given orders to quarantine by MCCHD for up to 14 days, depending on the details of your exposure. Depending on testing availability, individuals in quarantine may be able to be released from quarantine with a negative COVID test taken after seven days.**

**Due to the high volume of new cases, MCCHD is only testing individuals currently experiencing COVID-compatible symptoms and health department-verified close contacts. Curry Health Center currently is only testing symptomatic students.

Be well,

COVID Response Team

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