COVID-19 Status Blog

Augsburg Campuswide COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

Posted on

As of Monday, August 30, more than 80% of Augsburg students, staff, and faculty were fully vaccinated. Additionally, more than 86% have at least one dose, so we expect the fully vaccinated number to continue to increase over the next few weeks.

Augsburg’s vaccinate rate combines student and faculty/ staff rates. The student rate is calculated using an aggregate report from the Minnesota Department of Health, which covers nearly 94% of students, in all programs, registered for the fall semester. This MDH report does not provide the status of individual students, but does confirm the aggregate number of registered students who have at least one dose of the vaccine and who are fully vaccinated. The faculty and staff rate is a much smaller portion of the overall rate and currently is based on self-reported data from employees. The faculty and staff rate will be updated with actual data when the status of all employees’ vaccinations have been verified.

As previously communicated, Augsburg extended its mask mandate through September in order to provide additional time for those in the process of getting vaccinated to receive their final doses. During this time, it is important that we all continue to follow the behaviors that will help keep you and those around you healthy.

Finally, we still need to confirm the individual vaccination status for some students, and we will continue to follow up with those individuals until all students have met the requirements of Augsburg’s vaccine mandate. Failure to meet the mandate requirements may result in disciplinary review, so if you receive an email regarding your vaccination status, please respond to it promptly.

 

Augsburg Extends Indoor Mask Mandate through September

Posted on

Due to persistent high COVID-19 regional transmission rates and the need for additional time for a number of students to get their final vaccination doses, Augsburg is extending the indoor face covering requirement through the month of September.

Because the COVID-19 Delta variant is airborne, it is important to wear a mask in any indoor space where others are present or could be present before or after you were there. This includes:

  • study areas (e.g., in Hagfors Center, Lindell Library, etc.),
  • lobby areas,
  • restrooms,
  • hallways, stairwells, and elevators,
  • classrooms and meeting rooms,
  • and other shared or common spaces.

Indoor masks are not required in one’s own residential unit or individual office with the door closed, or when eating in designated campus dining areas. Campus dining areas currently include the Dining Commons and Einsteins coffee shop in Christensen Center.

Due to staffing vacancies, Nabo and Kafe Kafeega will not be open until later in the semester. When those venues open, additional spaces may be designated as dining areas. Eating outdoors on campus is also a good
option, when weather permits. Masks or face coverings are not required outdoors on campus, although there may be specific outdoor events where masks may be required if close contact and large crowds are expected.

We will continue to monitor the regional transmission rate and report weekly on Augsburg’s COVID-19 Dashboard during September and adjust mitigation protocols based on campus and regional transmission levels. If you have questions about COVID-19 requirements in specific situations, please contact the helpline@augsburg.edu, and your questions will be forwarded to the appropriate party.

Augsburg Reinstates Indoor Mask Policy Due to Substantial Regional COVID-19 Transmission Rates

Posted on

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all individuals—vaccinated and unvaccinated—wear face coverings in public indoor spaces in any county where the COVID-19 transmission rate is substantial or high.

During the last weekend in July, cases in Hennepin and Ramsey counties moved to a “substantial” transmission rate (between 50 and 99.99 cases per 100,000 population over 7 days, as defined by the CDC). As a result, Augsburg reinstated the indoor face covering requirement, effective August 3.

All students, staff, and faculty are required to wear face coverings in indoor campus spaces, except when eating in dining areas or when in one’s own residential unit or individual office with the door closed. This applies to all U.S. Augsburg locations. (International Augsburg locations are following local protocols.) Masks or face coverings are not required outdoors. 

The indoor mask requirement is expected to remain in effect until regional case rates return to moderate or low levels. Augsburg has added the 7-day regional case rate for Hennepin and Ramsey counties to its COVID-19 dashboard report, which is updated weekly. 

With the increasing prevalence of the significantly more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, Augsburg will continue to adapt its public health protocols this fall based on campus case and vaccination rates, regional transmission rates, and other factors on campus. 

While masks or face coverings provide an important additional layer of protection during times when transmission levels are significant, the most important protection against severe illness from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. That’s why Augsburg remains committed to supporting individuals who would like information about or help with COVID-19 vaccinations. Information provided will remain confidential to the Augsburg COVID-19 Response Team.

Augsburg Announces COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

Posted on

To provide the safest possible conditions for teaching, learning and working, Augsburg University has implemented a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for students and employees, with documented exemptions and extensions allowed for the 2021-22 academic year.

By August 26, students, faculty, and staff must have:

  • received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; or
  • been vaccinated with another vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO); or
  • filed a medical or non-medical vaccine exemption form with the Dean of Students (for students) or Augsburg Human Resources (for employees); or
  • filed a 31-day deadline extension request with the Dean of Students (for students) or Augsburg Human Resources (for employees).

See the Vaccine Mandate page for information about filing an extension or COVID-19 vaccine exemption, campus requirements for unvaccinated individuals, and additional frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Augsburg remains committed to supporting individuals who would like information about or help with COVID-19 vaccinations. Faculty and staff may contact Human Resources for support. Students may  complete this COVID-19 questionnaire to have a member of the Augsburg Response Team provide additional information.

 

Indoor Mask Mandate on Campus Expires June 26

Posted on

Augsburg will lift the campus-wide indoor mask requirement as of Saturday, June 26. If we experience an outbreak of cases on campus, we may temporarily reinstate the indoor mask policy until case rates subside.

As we transition through the summer, working to get as many people vaccinated as possible, there may still be some situations on campus where masks will be required given the particulars of the situation (e.g., large groups with off-campus participants). In those cases, the mask requirement will be communicated to participants in advance to make sure people come prepared to wear a mask.

Of course, any individual who chooses to continue to wear a mask indoors (or outdoors) on campus may continue to do so. The CDC does recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks, as they remain at risk for contracting COVID-19, including newer, more infectious variants.

Augsburg Is Committed to Promoting Vaccinations

Posted on

Augsburg President Pribbenow has decided not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations at this time based on three factors: (1) the culture of Augsburg, where our strength comes from common purpose and shared conviction, (2) public health data, including COVID-19 case rates and the vaccination data we are now gathering, and (3) trends among our peer institutions. Irrespective of the policy, we are committed to doing the work necessary to achieve the highest vaccination rate possible by fall.

As part of that effort, Augsburg University has joined the COVID-19 College Vaccination Challenge launched by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. 

In joining the challenge, Augsburg is committing to three significant efforts:

  • Engage every student, faculty, and staff member. The response to date from our faculty/staff survey (with an 85% response rate so far) indicates that a remarkable 97% of staff and full-time faculty will be vaccinated by August 16! Although the survey did not include part-time faculty, because fall adjunct appointments are not yet finalized, we will include all instructors in our vaccination outreach efforts.

    We also have initiatives underway to track and increase vaccination rates among students. We will be working with the Minnesota Department of Health over the summer to review aggregate vaccination rates among Augsburg students. To complement that effort, we will conduct a student survey asking students to let us know if they need help getting vaccinated this summer. These efforts will also include the Augsburg students who will register during SOAR and in the weeks after.

  • Organize the college community by identifying champions for vaccine efforts and implementing a plan to get as many members of the campus vaccinated as possible. The Augsburg Day Student Government has created a student-led video to encourage students to get vaccinated, and our COVID-19 Response Team is preparing resources and support for students who want additional information about or help getting vaccinated.

  • Deliver vaccine access for all. Augsburg has been promoting information about free, no-appointment vaccines in the metropolitan area and has partnered with People’s Center Clinic to offer several vaccine clinics for Auggies just across the street from campus. We also are holding on-campus Johnson & Johnson vaccination events during student orientation SOAR events this summer, which are available to all students, staff, and faculty, as well as their families and friends. (See A-mail for details.) 

Augsburg Adjusts Capacity Requirements for Campus Events

Posted on

Under Minnesota’s phased approach to lifting many of the statewide COVID-19 restrictions—which was announced by Gov. Tim Walz on May 6—the physical distancing requirements and capacity limits in a variety of venues ended on May 28. 

In anticipation of this change, the University Events team has adjusted the spacing and capacity guidelines for Augsburg events. Signage on campus about capacity limits in classrooms, meeting rooms, and other spaces also is being removed. 

Augsburg students, faculty, and staff should continue to follow these Augsburg requirements:

  • Complete the #CampusClear daily symptom screening app before you come to campus or leave your residence hall 
  • Wear face coverings indoors, except when in your residential unit or individual office
  • Stay home if you are sick 
  • Report symptoms, exposures, and positive COVID-19 test results using the self-report form. Those fully vaccinated need only report if they receive a positive COVID-19 test, and will not be required to quarantine if exposed to someone with COVID-19..

Finally, Augsburg encourages everyone to get a vaccine. View information about walk ups for the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the State Fairgrounds. 

You may even get free tickets to the State Fair or Valleyfair!

Outdoor Mask Mandate Lifted Across Minnesota

Posted on

Yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a phased approach to lifting many of the statewide COVID-19 protocols in the coming months. The first of these—effective at noon today—is that masks are no longer required outdoors, though they are still recommended if you are in a large group or a crowded area where distancing is not possible, and individuals, of course, may continue to choose to wear face coverings. 

Masks are still required in all indoor spaces except when you are in your residential unit or individual office.

All Minnesotans Age 16 and Older Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination as of March 30

Posted on

On Friday, March 26, Gov. Tim Walz announced that all Minnesotans age 16 or older will be eligible to make vaccination appointments as of March 30.

Available vaccination appointments are published on the State of Minnesota’s vaccination finder web site.

There is also a grassroots app that collects info on all the vax appointments available so that you don’t have to go to each vaccination venue’s site individually:   https://www.vaccinespotter.org/MN/ .

Vaccination Timelines and Clinical Trial Results

Posted on

Vaccination Timelines

The best resource for information about vaccination timelines in Minnesota is the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector, a tool where you sign up to be alerted when you are eligible to receive a vaccine. The tool then will connect you to resources to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Health officials say that you should take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine because each of the vaccines significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths.

The state has published a timeline for vaccination by factors such as age, job type, and health status. The Vaccine Connector site proclaims that, “[b]y this summer, every Minnesotan who wants a shot will be able to get one!”

For now, according to state officials, “the goal for the first, limited doses of COVID-19 vaccine is to immunize for impact – meaning [that vaccines are offered] to those at highest risk of getting COVID-19 and those most at risk of severe disease and complications if they get COVID-19.”

The groups that the state prioritized for vaccination through the first week of March included healthcare workers, people 65 years and older, and K-12 teachers and childcare workers. The State of Minnesota prioritized K-12 separately from higher education, stating that  because not all students can successfully social distance or maintain masks, childcare staff and K-12 educators are at higher risk.  Additionally, children going back to childcare and school is needed in order for parents to return back to work.

For more detailed information, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s About COVID-19 Vaccine page. This page includes considerations for pregnant people, people who are breastfeeding, and immunocompromised people. It also includes information about vaccine safety and what to do after getting vaccinated.

Vaccine Efficacy

Health officials say that you should take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine because each of the vaccines significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

You may have heard different efficacy rates reported for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines compared with the more recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Efficacy is a measure of how the vaccine performed during clinical trials and is not a predictor of effectiveness in the general population.

Example: Among the 28,207 people in the Moderna test, 225 in the placebo group contracted COVID-19, while 11 in the vaccine group got the virus. If the vaccine had no effect, we would have expected 225 people to get the virus in each group, but the vaccine group had 214 fewer cases. Efficacy is calculated as the reduction in cases among the vaccine group as a percent of the total cases in the placebo group:  214/225 = 95%. In other words, in this test population, the vaccine was associated with 95% fewer cases in the vaccine group relative to the placebo group.  See more about the Moderna vaccine on the CDC web site.

Efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for reducing cases was 74% in U.S. clinical trials, and was 100% for reducing hospitalizations after 28 days relative to the placebo group. As noted above, all three vaccines approved for use in the United States have very strong efficacy rates relative to severe cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and death.