Back to Class: Covid-19 Prevention Tips
Covid-19 cases are rising nationwide. Although the community levels in Fulton County remain low, Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director of Stamps Health Services, wouldn't be surprised if cases rise when people start gathering around our campus community in the next few weeks.
"We've seen a spike at the start of each semester since Covid-19 began. People come together and bring viruses with them. There's a lot of commingling, and it spreads from person to person, so we typically see a bump at the beginning of the semester. So far, that dissipates relatively quickly,” he said.
As the semester begins, his recommendations for all students include:
- Make sure you’re up to date on vaccinations.
- Get tested if you have Covid-19 symptoms.
- If exposed, follow recommendations.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
Because Covid-19 can mimic a common cold or a variety of other illnesses, Holton specifically highlighted the importance of the guidance to stay home if you are experiencing a cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose, or other symptoms.
"That is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses like the flu,” he said. “Isolating gives your body time to reduce your viral load enough to ensure you're not spreading the virus to those around you, and that's a key part of interrupting the transmission chain.”
Current CDC guidelines include a five-day isolation period for those with mild illness and a 10-day period for those who experience moderate symptoms, including shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
Holton stressed that those who are immunocompromised should wear a mask and take additional precautions to avoid exposure to Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses. While the federal Covid-19 public health emergency ended in May, Holton suggests that the virus is on track to become a seasonal virus similar to the flu.
“It’s a real possibility that it’ll be a seasonal virus, and not once a year like the flu tends to be, but maybe twice a year where we have a little bump, and we need to take more precautions,” he said, noting that the community is better equipped to deal with surges due to availability of vaccines and natural immunity among the general public.
Holton recommends that students have several at-home tests on hand as the semester begins. Students experiencing symptoms can also get tested by making an appointment at Stamps. With the exception of psychiatry, all appointments there have returned to in-person as the health center continues to return to pre-pandemic operations.
Along with offering Covid-19 vaccinations by appointment, Stamps will host walk-in flu vaccination clinics in October, with details to be announced early in the semester.
Stamps Health Services is located within the Joseph Brown Whitehead Building on the Georgia Tech campus.