Summary Update of COVID-19-related Developments
Date: November 22, 2021
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Katherine Fleming, Provost
Martin Dorph, Exec. Vice President
Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Exec. Lead, COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team
We hope you are doing well, and we wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving break.
Speaking of Thanksgiving…
Mask-wearing is required on most forms of public and commercial transit and transportation; however, you should wear a mask in public settings even if it is not required, such as when shopping in crowded stores and rest areas or other transportation hubs.
Celebrating the holiday
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the CDC recommendations on holiday celebrations and follow them during the break.
If you find yourself in a situation where your risk of catching COVID-19 was elevated (eg, the person sitting next to you at Thanksgiving was unvaccinated) and/or you experience COVID-19 symptoms, upon return to campus, please make use of the discretionary testing program we have in place.
COVID-19 Case Data
Following Halloween, we have seen an increase in cases after seven weeks of steady declines, and an increase in our case positivity rate. This development was not unexpected, partly owing to the size and vibrancy of our neighborhood’s Halloween celebration, partly owing to the colder weather and people spending more time indoors, and partly owing to the slight uptick in new cases in New York City and nationally that has occurred since the end of October.
Last week we became aware of a cluster of eight cases among workers for one of the University’s contractors; we alerted the City’s Dept. of Health, and we examined data for evidence of spread to NYU students or employees, but have found none. We are working with the vendor to ensure 1) that other employees are tested, 2) that the affected employees are following the proper isolation protocols, and 3) that breaks are adjusted to lessen the likelihood of social congregation that might be likely to spread COVID-19.
Reports of Improper Mask Wearing
Overall, we have been proud and pleased by how conscientiously NYU community members have followed our mask-wearing rules. The combination of high vaccination rates and diligent mask-wearing is at the heart of our low case rate.
However, we have recently started getting a slight increase in anecdotal reports of NYU community members wearing masks improperly. We think the MTA’s message on this was about as clear as one can get. Please take note:
Respect and gratitude to the MTA’s communications unit for producing this.
And remember: mask-wearing is required in lounges, libraries, and break spaces, even if you are physically distanced from others. Designated eating areas and when you are alone in a private office are the instances where mask-wearing is not required.
COVID-19 Booster Shots
Eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots has expanded: all members of the NYU community who are 18 years old or older are now eligible (once the recommended time period from the last dose has passed) — this includes those vaccinated with J&J, Pfizer, Moderna, and World Health Organization listed vaccines. Remember: eligible members of the NYU community may arrange to receive their booster shots through NYU, or through any provider of their choosing.
Update to the NYU Returns Hub About Restrictions
Over the course of the semester, we have taken some modest and prudent steps to ease some of the restrictions that were in place at the start of the academic year. In order to alleviate confusion about what safety and health rules have changed and in what ways, we will post a table of changes on the NYU Returns web hub sometime before the end of the week of November 29, 2021.
Revised Dates for Federal Mandates’ Impact on Non-Compliant Employees
A previous Summary Update highlighted the federal government’s requirement that all employees of federal contractors, including NYU, be fully vaccinated unless they have been granted a medical or religious exemption (the deadline has been updated to January 4, 2022). To ensure compliance with that requirement, NYU requires all employees, including full-time faculty, to have uploaded their proof of vaccination or submitted a request for an exemption as soon as possible, but no later than December 15, 2021. Failure to comply with the vaccination requirement will result in being prohibited from being on campus and being placed on unpaid leave as of January 4, 2022.
Get Your Flu Shot
Here’s a reminder of another thing you can do to keep yourself safer and healthier this fall and winter: get a flu shot.
It’s quick and easy, and now’s the time. It'll reduce the chances of you getting the flu. And, should you get the flu, it’ll reduce the severity of illness. And you can get it at no cost or low cost in many healthcare settings.