Dear UT Health San Antonio faculty, staff and learners:
The BA.5 variant is the dominant variant in the community. It is highly contagious and can infect people who have had prior infections and those who are vaccinated against COVID-19. Still, vaccinations have proven to reduce the severity of the illness, reducing the number of hospitalizations.
Our infectious diseases team continues to monitor the situation closely. We are extending the following actions out of an abundance of caution and to help keep our employees and learners safe:
- Mask requirements will continue to apply for all patients, faculty, trainees, students, staff and visitors within patient care clinics. Masks need to be worn outside of direct clinical care areas including break rooms, workrooms, shared offices and gathering areas in clinical facilities when staff cannot maintain 6 feet of safe distancing. See additional information below related to UT Health Physicians.
- Social distancing should be observed whenever possible.
- Masks are optional to wear on campus in non-clinical areas. However, masking is strongly encouraged for individuals that have recently had natural infection or for unvaccinated, high-risk individuals.
- Eating/drinking together in groups is discouraged due to the current high risk of transmission. Thoughtfully plan in-person meetings and large events with respect to distancing and limit food offerings.
- Mission-critical travel and campus visitors will continue to be allowed at the discretion of departmental leadership. International travel to countries designated as high risk by the U.S. Department of State as noted here requires approval of the departmental leadership and the institutional International Oversight Committee. If international travel to a high-risk destination (Level 3 or 4) is necessary, a waiver request should be submitted to the International Oversight Committee a minimum of 30 days before the trip.
- Schedule a vaccine or a booster. Boosters can further enhance or restore protection that might have decreased over time after your primary series vaccine. Locations include the Medical Arts and Research Center (MARC), or Wellness 360 located in the School of Nursing. Visit the CDC website to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine booster recommendations.
- If you need a COVID-19 test, please visit our scheduling website or visit our COVID-19 website for more instructions on testing.
- If you have tested positive for COVID-19, report the results to COVIDemail@example.com.
- If you have tested positive for COVID-19, visit the CDC for quarantine and isolationrecommendations, which include staying home for at least 5 full days (day zero is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for asymptomatic persons). More severe disease may require more than 5 days. The Employee Illness Bank is still an option for those requiring time off due to illness, or you may be able to work from home as approved by your supervisor.
- If you have questions, you may email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
For those employees who work in patient care settings, the following protocols were sent out this week from Chatchawin Assanasen, MD, interim chief medical officer for UT Health Physicians Ambulatory Services:
- Mask requirements will continue to apply for all patients, faculty, trainees, students, staff and visitors within UT Health Physicians clinics as well as UHS-based facilities.
- Eating and drinking together in groups is discouraged due to the current high risk of transmission.
- Masks need to be worn outside of direct clinical care areas, as well as the previously required spaces. This includes workrooms, shared offices and gathering areas when staff cannot maintain 6 feet of safe distancing.
- All current COVID screening steps will remain in place and will be enforced by the clinic staff.
- We have not reinstituted any new prescreening requirements at this time.
- Patients with known positive COVID tests will be placed in a designated room immediately after arrival. This guideline was put in place during the first year of the pandemic.
- It is not necessary to transport COVID-positive patients through alternative routes.
- Immunocompromised patients will be placed into an exam room as soon as possible.
- Symptomatic UT Health Physicians team members should not come to work and should contact and be assessed by their manager.
- Please continue to encourage vaccination as well as first and second boosters for qualified individuals.
The CDC now recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible. UT Health Physicians is planning to offer vaccines for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination scheduling has plenty of availability.
Thank you for continuing to provide a safe working environment for our team members, patients and families. Please continue to encourage vaccination, as well as first and second boosters for qualified individuals.
Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer