Omicron variant on American soil: COVID-19 update

Mackenzie Bookamer, News Editor

As of Nov. 30, Tulane University has completed 68,886 COVID-19 tests during the fall semester, 308 of which were positive. Tulane has a seven-day 0.2% positivity rate, while Orleans Parish reported a positivity rate of 0.9% and Louisiana reported a positivity rate of 2.2%.  

covid-19 graphic
Cecilia Hammond

The university currently has six active cases — two students and four employees. Over the course of the fall semester, there have been 182 positive tests from students and 126 positive tests from employees. The percentage of all positive tests this semester is 0.4%. 

On Nov. 26, the World Health Organization declared the omicron variant of COVID-19 a public health concern. It is currently unknown if the Omicron variant is more transmissible or severe than previous variants, but testing is underway in South Africa to determine these factors. The first confirmed case of the 0micron variant in the United States was detected on Nov. 29 in California. 

Currently, Tulane has a vaccination rate of over 95%, whereas Orleans Parish has a vaccination rate of 73.2%. Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine are available to people ages 18 and over. The booster vaccine can be administered at least six months after having the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Those who are eligible to receive a booster in the Tulane community can receive their third dose at the university vaccine clinics, located on both the uptown and downtown campuses. 

Tulane — along with the city of New Orleans — is following modified phase three protocols, which require that masks must be worn indoors at all times for unvaccinated individuals over the age of two and in “early childhood and K-12 educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and public transportation.” 

Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test must be shown for all indoor events, which includes classrooms, bars, gyms and any indoor entertainment. Proof can be shown via the LA Wallet app, vaccine card or immunization record.

Due to the decreasing number of positive COVID-19 tests in the community, Tulane reduced its testing frequency. This updated testing schedule started on Oct. 25 and will run until Nov. 22. Tulane will test randomly selected individuals several times throughout the week. Testing must occur within 96 hours of the individual receiving their QR code via their Tulane email address. 

If you have tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, please complete the COVID-19 reporting form available here. Students are not permitted to self-quarantine unless they have spoken with a Tulane contact tracer.