COVID-19 update: Tulane reinstates mask mandate, offers virtual end to semester

Jada Roth, Chief Copy Editor

Since the start of the fall semester, Tulane University administered 79,236 COVID-19 tests, 604 of which have returned positive. Of those 604 positive tests, 464 were students and 140 were employees. Tulane’s seven-day positive testing rate is 4.1%, compared to the New Orleans positivity rate of 1.5%. Louisiana’s positivity rate is currently 2%. 

Since Dec. 8, Tulane has had 265 new individuals test positive, with Dec. 14 reporting the most positive cases in a single day since the start of the semester at 104. 

The first Tulane case of the new omicron variant was detected in a graduate student on Dec. 6. Tulane has since increased testing frequency, reinstated the indoor mask mandate and implemented an optional virtual option for the remainder of the semester. 

Students are encouraged to fill out the COVID-19 reporting form if they test positive or have been in close contact with a positive individual. A form submission may speed up the contact tracing process due to the overwhelming amounts of cases flooding the contact tracing team.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced on Dec. 15 that booster doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer an increase in protection against the omicron variant. 

Fauci’s statement is corroborated by a recent study from Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The preliminary results found that booster shots protect against the omicron variant. Vaccinated individuals who have not yet received their booster, however, do not have the same protection as boosted individuals.

Booster shots are available at Tulane vaccine clinics for anyone over 18 who received their second dose at least six months ago. Appointments are required. 

New Orleans remains in modified phase three protocols. Masks must be worn indoors at all times for unvaccinated individuals over age two and in healthcare facilities, public transportation and early childhood and K-12 institutions. 

Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test are required for all indoor events. 

Tulane has a vaccination rate of 95% for students and faculty. 

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