January 9, 2023

Students, Faculty and Staff,

As the spring semester gets underway, we want to strongly encourage anyone with flu-like symptoms to wear a mask indoors and in gatherings with others.

We are seeing an expected surge in COVID and other respiratory illnesses following the holidays and new variants that are proving to be more contagious. In many cases, individuals have tested negative for COVID using a rapid antigen test only to test positive later. Home tests are reliable when positive but may render a false negative result for several days after symptom onset. This means you could be infecting others during your most contagious phase of illness.

Due to increased cases in our community, the Centers for Disease Control moved Durham to its “high risk” category last Thursday. If Durham remains at high risk for two consecutive weeks, we will return to mandatory masking in classrooms until the rating drops below high risk. Faculty members still have the option to request that students continue to wear masks in their classrooms if they wish to do so.

If you have flu-like symptoms, you can get a PCR test at Student health or Employee Health to confirm whether your symptoms are from COVID or submit a symptom report through the SymMon app or by calling the Employee Health COVID hotline at 919-385-0429, option 1.

For those who are not experiencing symptoms, you can get a PCR test at two locations on campus or pick up a rapid antigen test at no charge with a DukeID through Duke Stores in the Bryan Center.

We also want to encourage anyone who has not yet done so to get your influenza vaccine or bivalent COVID booster. These vaccines are among the best ways to protect yourself and others from severe illness.

Thank you and best wishes for a safe and healthy spring semester.

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health
Executive Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness

John Vaughn, MD
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
Director of Student Health Services

This message was sent to all students, faculty and staf within Duke University.