News and Announcements

Public health update: Feb. 8, 2022

The following message was shared with the OHIO community on Feb. 8, 2022.

Dear OHIO community members,

Ohio University continued to experience a drop in daily new cases of COVID-19 through last week, which is good news. The snowstorm caused disruptions in getting some test results since Thursday morning; those data should be available and reflected in the dashboard soon. 

We expect to see our downward trend continue, given that cases and hospitalizations are declining both nationwide and in the state of Ohio. This means we are heading in the right direction, not that we have reached our destination yet. Community transmission remains high nationwide and in every Ohio county, driven by the omicron variant which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts occupies more than 99 percent of the national proportion of COVID.

Please continue to contribute to this decline in cases by stopping virus transmission with all the tools available to you: vaccination and boosters, wearing a high-filtration mask, testing regularly, avoiding large gatherings, and washing your hands.  

COVID-19 self-tests: a convenient prevention tool

The increasing availability of rapid self-tests for COVID-19 adds yet another prevention tool to our array. Testing at home before attending an event, before we visit vulnerable individuals, or after we participate in higher-risk activities doesn’t eliminate risk, but it does reduce the chances we will unknowingly spread the virus. 

Tests are readily available online, in retail stores, and even for free from the U.S. government. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free tests (a residence hall room is considered a home). Private health insurance reimburses the costs of purchasing self-tests – up to eight tests per month per covered family member. OHIO faculty and staff who are enrolled in the University’s PPO plans have two options for covering the costs of tests, which makes it affordable to keep tests on hand. 

OHIO students, faculty, and staff who experience COVID-19 symptoms or who are exposed to the virus are expected to follow the OHIO COVID-19 protocol rather than use a rapid self-test at home. The protocol will include a COVID Campus Liaison (CCL) advising where they should test (either with a health care provider or at an on-campus testing center) based on symptoms or exposure.

Individuals who are required to test weekly because they are on the Weekly Testing Pathway or because they belong to any of the groups President Hugh Sherman announced must test weekly must complete those required tests through Vault Health.

For information about how to use rapid self-tests, how to order free self-tests, how insurance covers the cost of tests and more, visit this page

Stay ahead of the curve

Throughout the pandemic I imagine we have all felt tempted to let our guard down when cases begin to decline. I've noticed that testing volume goes down on our campuses as case rates drop, and we know that compliance with masking similarly drops. I feel the pull to relax too! Sometimes any sign of improvement feels like a cause for celebration. But unfortunately, while transmission remains this high, premature celebration will prolong the surge. Continuing to use all the prevention tools available to us will put this omicron surge firmly in our rear-view mirror. 

Dr. Gillian Ice
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations 

February 9, 2022
Staff reports