Thanksgiving recess begins November 22, and while we are all looking forward to the opportunity for rest and relaxation, it is important that we all continue to be mindful of COVID-19. The decisions we make during this time will have the potential to impact our health and the health of others.
Make a plan to keep those around you healthy. Planning is especially important if you will see family and others who might be at higher risk for COVID-19 complications. While this planning may include getting a test, health experts emphasize that a negative test result may occur early in a COVID-19 infection. A negative test result does not guarantee that you are free of the virus, and you may still be able to spread the virus to others.
Student Health and University of Iowa Health Care are testing only those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are symptomatic. If you would like to get a test before you travel to visit friends and family but do not meet that criteria, locations such as Hy-Vee or Test Iowa may be able to provide one.
As you know, you could test negative one day after an unknown exposure and be sick (and contagious) the next day or during break. The incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to 14 days, meaning that after an exposure, you could start showing symptoms of illness and be contagious anytime in that timeline. Please keep this in mind as you consider travel plans and a potential return to campus. Maintaining the safe behaviors you have been practicing on campus will be key in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others.
To reduce the risk of spreading illness to friends and family, consider taking precautions in the 14 days before you travel:
- Limit interactions and activities that increase your potential for exposure (hanging out with groups, going to bars or restaurants, etc.).
- Wear your face mask.
- Clean your hands often to prevent picking up viruses on your hands and introducing viruses and bacteria into your body.
- Maintain social distancing. Your risk drastically increases if you hang out in groups or go to parties, bars, and restaurants where social distancing is not feasible or enforced.
- Do everything you can stay healthy. Get a flu shot, get good sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage in stress management and self-care.
As a reminder, the university wants to know students’ plans for fall break (Nov. 21—Nov. 29) and for the virtual instruction and finals period from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. If you are a student, please take this one question survey and let us know your plans.