UMaine Now: COVID risk minimization and monitoring
Dear University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias community members,
In one of our COVID-19 briefings last week, someone remarked that we are at a point in the pandemic where we are in risk minimization — not elimination — mode, with all of us having responsible roles to play. I have been incredibly impressed with how seriously everyone has committed to personal and public safety in our first week back, especially our students.
Ongoing wastewater surveillance is an important part of our effort to monitor the presence of the virus on campus, and has been since August 2020. A systemwide effort, wastewater sampling and testing is led by associate professor of microbiology Robert Wheeler’s biosafety level 2 lab here in Orono. The Wheeler Lab team, supported by several other UMaine faculty members with related expertise, provides essential information to help inform our layered, science-driven planning and response as the pandemic continues. Surveillance has resumed for the spring semester and I am grateful to everyone who is helping to make this practice possible.
Our successful return to campus last week and the start of in-person learning were complicated by the inclement weather and blustery temperatures that created icy conditions across the 62 parking lots and 17 miles of walkways on our Orono campus. UMaine facilities management crews logged hundreds of hours addressing slippery conditions. We can all take comfort that our facilities team members work diligently to keep both the UMaine and UMaine Machias campuses as safe as possible, no matter how challenging the weather.
And an important reminder: Starting Feb. 1, all in-person students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster are required to participate in weekly asymptomatic testing. Our next UMaine on-campus booster clinic is this Friday. See more information below.
Reminders and Notices
Walk-in booster clinic on Friday: The next Northern Light Pharmacy COVID-19 booster clinic is scheduled for 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28 in the Coe Room, Memorial Union. The Pfizer booster will be provided to adults 18 and older. Members of the UMaine community who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are urged to participate. This is a walk-in clinic; no appointments required. Bring a copy or the original prescription insurance card, or have a picture of it readily available on your phone; the printed out and completed required Northern Light Health consent form; and your COVID vaccination card or a picture of it on your phone to your appointment.
Booster deadline for university travel: Effective Feb. 1, students and employees traveling domestically beyond Maine on university business are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted. More information is on the UMS website.
Booster deadline for students: Starting Feb. 1, the University of Maine System will require all in-person students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster to participate in weekly asymptomatic testing. The exceptions are students who have submitted either an online self-report form of a positive test result or a T3 on-campus positive test result, and will be paused 90 days from that positive test date before testing again. The CDC provides information about how long to wait to get a booster shot following vaccination. Verify your booster now to become exempt from weekly testing. If you have a booster, upload your vaccination card to PointnClick.
T3 testing available on all UMS campuses: University of Maine System students, faculty and staff can now get Shield T3 PCR tests on any UMS campus by scheduling an appointment via PointnClick.
UMaine wastewater surveillance has resumed: The results of wastewater surveillance are posted regularly on the Together for Maine website.
Campus-based testing schedules: All UMaine students and employees, regardless of vaccination status, are encouraged to participate in campus-based COVID-19 testing. UMaine asymptomatic test dates in Estabrooke Hall: Monday–Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday also 6:30–8:30 a.m. UMaine Machias asymptomatic testing dates in Sennett Hall (Reynolds Center starting Feb. 1): Tuesday, 9 a.m.–noon; Thursday, 2–5 p.m. More information about the on-campus asymptomatic Shield T3 COVID-19 saliva testing for both universities is online. Learn more about self-administered on-campus COVID tests if you are symptomatic. Please remember to activate the COVID-19 consent form for campus testing this semester.
Food and face coverings: For the month of January, the University of Maine System is not allowing concessions at ticketed or other university-organized events, and not allowing food and drink at meetings, events, and gatherings attended primarily by employees to minimize unmasked time indoors. More information is on the Together for Maine website under Face Covering Requirements.
Let’s talk: The CDC has information online about how to communicate with your close contacts if you test positive.
Improving mask protection: The CDC offers important information regarding how to improve mask protection.
Online compliance reporting: Report UMaine and UMaine Machias health and safety compliance concerns online.