December 7, 2021: COVID-19 Campus Update
In view of the recent increases in COVID-19 cases and SARS-CoV-2 testing positivity in New York State and New York City due to colder weather and tendency to gather indoors, anticipated increase in holiday travel and get-togethers with families and friends, as well as concerns regarding omicron variant, we wanted to update you on several issues including recommended supplemental testing:
- Booster vaccine doses: Booster dosing is currently recommended for all adults. There are locations throughout the city and you may also make an appointment with ColumbiaDoctors by going onto your Connect account. ColumbiaDoctors is offering booster shots in five locations. Morningside students ONLY can book a booster appointment via the scheduling section of the Columbia Health Patient Portal (limited availability).
- Indoor masking: As you are aware, the University requires indoor masking in all its facilities and recommends masking outdoors in crowded settings; we expect this masking requirement to continue through the winter. The City has also recently issued a stronger recommendation on indoor masking in certain public spaces. See here.
- Outdoor masking: Effective 12/7, we are strongly encouraging masking outdoors in large gatherings.
- Supplemental SARS-CoV-2 testing: Additional testing is also recommended for individuals who have participated in activities that may be associated with risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. For the activities listed below, SARS-CoV-2 testing should be done on day 3 to 5 following travel and on day 5-7 following participation in the gatherings described below. For additional campus testing information, see CU COVID-19 Testing Program.
- Gatherings with more than 10 people in which any are unmasked, including while eating, and in which not all attendees have had a PCR or antigen test within 48 hours prior to the event .
- Domestic travel outside NYC via any form of public transportation (e.g., airplane, bus, train) excluding normal commuting travel from home and Columbia campuses.
- Travel to an area in the US with high COVID-19 incidence rates (defined as ≥50 cases per 100,000 population in latest week).
- SARS-CoV-2 required testing for international travel: Also keep in mind that the CDC announced new requirements for all US and non-US persons arriving in the US, regardless of vaccination status, requiring a negative COVID test within 24 hours of departure for travel to the US. As noted above, we also strongly recommend an additional test on day 3-5 days after return to the US.
Testing is available at Lerner Hall on the Morningside campus and the Black Building on the CUIMC campus. The Columbia University surveillance testing program results are generally available in 24-36 hours, though it may take up to 72 hours for results and there is no option to expedite tests. The program does not offer rapid testing. In addition, testing is widely available in New York City and the metropolitan area, however you again need to consider that the results may, in certain locations, not be available immediately. Those seeking rapid antigen or rapid PCR tests may find the nyc.gov/covidtest site a helpful resource.
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC
University COVID Director
Senior Executive Vice President