Operational changes to UIC contact tracing

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During the winter holiday season, the highly transmissible variant of omicron contributed to an increase in new cases and positivity rates that exceeded anything we had seen since the start of the pandemic. This increase in cases has put a strain on UIC’s COVID-19 contact tracing and epidemiology program.

Since the program launched, we have reached over 95% of cases for a phone interview, often within a day of their COVID test. Over the past month, we’ve reached about a third of cases by phone, and our time to reach individuals has quadrupled. In order to meet the rapidly increasing demand, we have implemented several operational changes, including a more email-focused communication system.

We are extremely encouraged by the current trends on our campus and in the city of Chicago, where positivity, cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. In our program, we are also pleased that the proportion of cases we reach for an interview is steadily increasing.

Over the past few weeks, we have worked closely with campus leadership and infection control experts to adapt campus policies and isolation and quarantine guidance to the changing landscape of COVID-19 and to ensure that our campus remains one of the safest places in Chicago.

We’re excited to welcome members back to our campus for in-person learning and activities, but we know many may feel apprehensive about these changes. With that in mind, we would like to remind you of the following layers of protection we have on our campus:

  • Vaccination and booster, if eligible, are required for all students and employees except those exempt for medical and religious reasons.
    • UIC is a highly vaccinated population compared to its surrounding community, as over 94% of community members are vaccinated compared to approximately 67% of Chicago residents.
    • All FDA-approved vaccines are extremely effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent surge in cases attributed to the Omicron variant highlights the importance of vaccination and boosters.
  • Mandatory saliva test for anyone who is not fully immunized and for certain groups including campus residents, performing arts, and athletics.
  • Masking required
    • All people are required to wear a mask inside the UIC, regardless of their vaccination status. The only exception is if you are alone in a private office.
    • Masks are extremely effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Consider using a higher quality mask, such as a KN95, or lining your masks to provide added protection. All masks should completely cover your nose, mouth and chin and fit snugly against your face.
  • Contact tracing
    • Contact tracing will contact you if you test positive for UIC or if you are in close contact with someone contagious for COVID-19.
    • You must use the Reporting Decision Tool to report positive off-campus test results, exposures to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19-like symptoms, or out-of-state/out-of-state travel. country.
    • Please also help with UIC contact tracing by being aware of your surroundings: get to know the people close to you in class and at work so that if you ever test positive you can help us identify who is from. you may have been close.
    • For questions about classroom contact tracing procedures, please see our FAQs for students and faculty.
    • For questions about contact tracing procedures in the workplace, please see our FAQs for supervisors.
  • Improved ventilation – UIC has worked to improve ventilation on campus to increase classroom safety.

Our fall semester data has shown that our classrooms are safe environments, but remember that these layers of protection only work if you do your part. We want to remind you to stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, and let us know for public health advice.

For more information on classroom and workplace contact tracing procedures or other resources at UIC, please see the resources page on our website.

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