COVID-19 in our Community

-November 16, 2020-

Dear IHP Community:

We want to acknowledge everyone’s commitment to taking personal and professional responsibility to follow Commit @ IHP. The individual and collective actions of students, faculty, and staff are achieving the necessary outcomes we as a community need to keep ourselves healthy and safe. While COVID-19 is present within our community, fortunately it is at a low positivity rate. At last week’s Student Town Hall, we reported that four students are COVID-19 positive. Since then, five additional students and one full-time employee have tested positive. We hope all of these individuals recover quickly and can continue participating remotely until they are cleared to return to campus and clinical placements.

As we see COVID-19 surging at an alarming rate in Charlestown, in neighborhoods in Boston, across Massachusetts, and throughout the country, it is now more important than ever to follow Commit @ IHP guidelines. Grounded in science, these guidelines are consistent with effective infectious control protocols in use at MGH and MGB: wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing, and being indoors when possible with the people you live with at home.

We want to highlight the following information for everyone to remain healthy, as well as highlight the protocols if you do become COVID-19 positive.
•    Eating and drinking on campus or at clinical sites: Recently, at some clinical sites, it has been determined that COVID-19 has been transmitted in breakrooms. When you remove your mask to eat or drink, you must be at least 10 feet away from any other individual.
•    If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do? Inform your academic advisor and immediate supervisor and call MGH Occupational Health at (617) 726-2217. MGH Occupational Health is responsible for clearing you to return to campus and clinical placements. View detailed information about this process.
•    Do I need to do the contact tracing? No, contact tracing is conducted by MGH Occupational Health and the Collaborative for Contact Tracing. They determine who has had an exposure that must be traced.
•    What is the current definition of exposure? Exposure is defined as greater or equal to 15 cumulative minutes of face-to-face contact, within six feet with a confirmed or presumed case of COVID-19 starting from two calendar days prior to symptom onset or, in the setting of asymptomatic infection, starting two calendar days prior to test collection. MGH Occupational Health will assist in determining if you have been exposed, and will contact you as part of contact tracing if they determine you have had exposure.
•    How do I access the IHP-funded COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff? Testing is available at MGH. Individuals must schedule their testing appointments in advance. No walk-in appointments are available. View detailed information on scheduling a test.
•    What will my academic schedule be after Thanksgiving? Academic programs have established a Fall 2020 semester schedule for each cohort. Check with your academic advisor or academic program to understand your specific schedule.
•    Is it currently safe to travel? Most infectious control experts are indicating that travel should be restricted. The current surge in COVID-19 infection is occurring during social interactions indoors among people who do not live together or outdoors where wearing masks and maintaining social distancing are not being followed. Travel restrictions including quarantine and testing required to enter a specific state are changing as the COVID-19 positivity rate and other factors increase. The MA Travel Order describes the current requirements to enter Massachusetts.

Thank you again for all you are doing to remain healthy and safe, and we hope those who are COVID-19 positive make a fast recovery. We know how hard these last eight months have been for everyone, but now more than ever, vigilance to Commit @ IHP is what will keep us strong as a community.

Paula Milone-Nuzzo
President and John Hilton Knowles Professor

Denis Stratford
Chief Operating Officer

IHP Communications

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