In an update to the student body and faculty, associate vice president of Student Affairs Dr. Andrew Miller held his weekly press conference on the morning of Monday, Oct. 18.
As the fall semester continues forward, the level of positive cases on campus grounds still are declining while transmission rates seem to be following a similar trend. To ensure the continuation of this pattern, continuing to follow safety measures and having awareness is still key to keeping numbers low.
“We continue to be in a state of gradual decline, in terms of COVID cases, with the university itself is still within the substantial transmission range, which a step down from high transmission, where it has been pretty much since the start of the semester,” Miller said. “The CDC’s recommendation is that while in a state of substantial or high transmission, everyone should be wearing a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status.”
The trend of cases and transmission rates that Sam Houston State University faces is an identical reflection of Walker County and the issues facing both communities.
As the threat level diminishes, the community within the county also sees improvements in other areas that the pandemic has affected.
“New to this report, is that Walker County itself has now decreased down into substantial transmission, which is of course a positive sign,” Miller said. “In the general community, there is less transmission, hospitals are seeing fewer cases, ICU beds involving COVID-19 are decreasing, not only in Walker County but in Montgomery County as well.”
As we enter a cold front this week and as the weather continues to change during the transition between seasons, the threat the virus holds on the general population differs than it would during warmer climates.
“The temperate weather should help decrease the spread, the virus stands no chance outdoors because of wind and of UV light,” Miller said. “Even with football games where it can be really crowded, there really is not that much reported spread.”
With the uncertainty of the virus and the threat it can pose, there are still levels of uncertainty among the community as to how the virus is being handled and if things are actually getting better.
As a result, the university continues to do their part to be transparent to the student body. This helps to ease student and faculty concerns as well as to show the number of positive cases coming from the on-campus health center and the self-reported cases by individuals within the Bearkat community. These numbers can be found on the Sam Houston website under the COVID-19 information tab.
“We are continuing with our exposure tracking process, we still do the follow up calls with people who reported positive and those who were exposed,” Miller said. “We also continue to push the number of cases out so people can be informed and make whatever decisions they need to make.”
The university also continues to provide students and faculty with resources they might need in order to protect themselves against the virus.
The Student Health Center (SHC) on campus provides COVID vaccinations while also hosting events to increase the level of vaccinated bodies on campus.
“On campus, we still do have some supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and we do have some upcoming events in the next few weeks with the state department of health where we will have Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available,” Miller stated.
On top of COVID-19 vaccinations, the Student Health Center also provides flu shots. With this year’s flu posing a greater threat to the general population, it is increasingly stressed to take the precautionary measures necessary to protect yourself against the flu as well.
The university also hosts events in which they deliver flu shots to the community on university grounds. If students are not able to attend, it is still encouraged they seek other places to receive their flu shots, such as CVS or Walgreens.
“We are also encouraging students and faculty to remember to get their flu shot to ensure you have maximum coverage throughout cold and flu season,” Miller explained. “The concern about the flu season being that it will be more problematic than last year since cases were lower due to social distancing.”
As the end of the fall semester approaches, students are facing increased levels of stress and time constraints with demands coming from course workloads or other various factors. There are resources provided in order to help students work through these times.
“As we reach the middle of October, this is a high-pressure time, on top of everything else that’s been going on,” Miller explained. “The goal is to make students aware of the services that the counseling center provides, of course all completely free and confidential; but also, the self-help resources.”
Dr. Andrew Miller will hold his next press conference next week on Monday, Oct. 25. with further updates on the climate on Sam Houston campus grounds but also Walker County.