Campus Community Health Information
Weekly Updates and Information:
Last Updated: 2/21/2023
As of 2/21/23, there are 5 active student cases of COVID-19 that have been reported to the Student Health Center. In February, there have been 7 cases reported; 122 cases reported since the start of the academic year.
The Porter County Health Department vaccine mobile unit will be visiting campus on Wednesday, February 22 from 9am until 1 pm by the Harre Union. They will be offering COVID-19 bivalent boosters as well as HPV vaccinations. More information will be sent to students in the coming days.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever or chills, Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle or body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Congestion or runny nose, Nausea or vomiting, Diarrhea.
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.
COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
How to Protect Self and Others from Disease
In addition to basic health and hygiene practices, like handwashing, CDC recommends some prevention actions at all COVID-19 Community Levels, which include:
- Staying Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines
- Improving Ventilation
- Getting Tested for COVID-19 If Needed
- Following Recommendations for What to Do If You Have Been Exposed
- Staying Home If You Have Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
- Seeking Treatment If You Have COVID-19 and Are at High Risk of Getting Very Sick
- Avoiding Contact with People Who Have Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
Treatment for Disease
Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), to help you feel better.
If you test positive and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available. Medications to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective. Contact a healthcare provider right away to determine if you are eligible for treatment, even if your symptoms are mild right now.
People who are more likely to get very sick include older adults (ages 50 years or more, with risk increasing with age), people who are unvaccinated, and people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, or a weakened immune system. Being vaccinated makes you much less likely to get very sick. Still, some vaccinated people, especially those ages 65 years or older or who have other risk factors for severe disease, may benefit from treatment if they get COVID-19. A healthcare provider will help decide which treatment, if any, is right for you. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are taking other medications to make sure the COVID-19 treatments can be safely taken at the same time.
University’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
As of August 2022, Valparaiso University requires all faculty, staff, and students to be fully vaccinated (definition of fully vaccinated includes the initial vaccine series and one completed booster) to protect the health and safety of the entire University community as evidence supports that vaccination prevents the most serious illness. Medical and religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A second COVID-19 booster shot is not currently required, but encouraged for those who are eligible. A second booster requirement is subject to change based on CDC and local/state Health Department guidance this year. Students will be informed of any future requirements.
While the University does offer exemptions for medical or religious reasons, we are not responsible for the requirements of outside agencies or facilities. Students who need completion of offsite work, such as clinical hours in medical facilities, are likely to be required to be vaccinated to complete those hours. Valparaiso University will not be responsible for securing unique placements for those students not eligible for placement in partner facilities due to vaccination exemption and failure to complete external training such as clinical hours will prevent completion of the program.
University’s Mask Policy
As of August 2022:
- Mask usage will be optional for healthy students, faculty, and staff. Masks are strongly encouraged for those who are not fully vaccinated due to their approved exemption.
- Individuals who are symptomatic should wear a mask and test themselves for COVID-19. If a student tests positive, they should contact the Health Center for assistance and resources.
- Students who are direct contacts of a positive COVID-19 person, but are asymptomatic, will be required to wear a mask for ten (10) days under current CDC guidelines.
- Students who test positive and complete their 5 day isolation, will be released and allowed to return to class but must follow a strict mask requirement for five (5) additional days.
- Faculty may require masks in their classrooms and labs at their discretion when conditions may call for such discretion. Faculty will notify students in their classes if this is a requirement for their course.
Procedure for Positive Test
As of August 2022, regardless of vaccination status, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be placed in isolation for five (5) days. If a fever persists after five days, one will remain in isolation until the fever has resolved, without medication, for 24-hours. After the five day isolation period, students will be released from isolation and may return to activities masking for five (5) additional days.
Procedure for Exposure
As of August 2022, students who are exposed to a positive COVID-19 case but are asymptomatic or healthy will not be placed into a quarantine room. They will be required to wear a mask for ten (10) days.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include, Fever, Chills, Swollen lymph nodes, Exhaustion, Muscle aches and backache, Headache, Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough).
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
You may experience all or only a few symptoms. Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
Anyone can get monkeypox as it is transmitted by skin contact, and sexual contact is not required for transmission. Please also be mindful that there are various skin and genetic conditions (such as acne) that may resemble monkeypox. Respect for the dignity of all people is a Valpo value, and it is inconsistent with our community values to make assumptions about anyone, especially someone unfortunately sick with this virus.
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
- Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox.
- Hugging, massage, and kissing.
- Prolonged face-to-face contact.
- Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels.
A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2–4 weeks
How to Protect Self and Others from Disease
The best steps you can take regarding monkeypox, COVID-19, and other health matters is to practice good health hygiene, stay home if you are not feeling well, contact your medical provider if you have symptoms, sanitize hands and surfaces regularly, and wear a mask in appropriate settings. Avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has a rash that could be monkeypox. You can prevent infection by avoiding contact with people diagnosed with monkeypox and wearing a mask if you are in contact with someone who has symptoms or a confirmed case. Do not share plates, silverware, or cups. Do not touch or share sheets, blankets, towels, or clothing.
While there are effective vaccines against monkeypox, supplies are limited at this time. Currently, the CDC recommends vaccines for those who have been exposed to monkeypox, or are more susceptible to the monkeypox virus.
Treatment for Disease
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections. Most people with monkeypox recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
Taking Care of Yourself
- Use gauze or bandages to cover the rash to limit spread to others and to the environment.
- Don’t lance (pop) or scratch lesions from the rash. This does not speed up recovery and can spread the virus to other parts of the body, increase the chance of spreading the virus to others, and possibly cause the open lesions to become infected by bacteria.
- Do not shave the area with the rash until the scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed. Shaving can spread the virus and cause more lesions.
- Keep skin lesions/rash clean and dry when not showering or bathing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with the rash.
- If you have a rash on your hands, be careful when washing or using sanitizer so as not to irritate the rash.
- If you have a rash on your hands, wear gloves that are non-irritating when handling common objects or touching surfaces in shared spaces.
- Wear a well-fitting mask around other people until the rash and all other symptoms have resolved.
- Eat healthy and get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal.
- Medicines like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help you feel better. Your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger pain relievers as well.
- Contact your healthcare provider if pain becomes severe and unmanageable at home.
Procedure for Positive Test
Students with monkeypox symptoms, a new or unexplained rash, or who have been exposed to the disease, should call the Student Health Center which can provide guidance, testing and treatment.
If you potentially have monkeypox, cover all rashes with clothes, gloves, bandages, and wear a mask.
Avoid touching anyone or exposing others until you have been to the doctor and received directions.
If your test result is positive, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
Wash your hands often and try not to touch your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead if possible, to avoid eye infection.
Stay in a space away from others until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. This may mean wearing a mask and always cleaning and disinfecting frequently.
The University will require infected students to leave campus, return home, and go into isolation and forgo in-person classes or activities while infectious, which is between two (2) and four (4) weeks. On-campus isolation in a single space for this extended period of time is not in anyone’s best interests. For international students who currently reside in on-campus University housing, isolation options may be made available.
What is Influenza (Flu) and how do I prevent it?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
How Flu Spreads
The flu viruses spread by tiny droplets from a cough, sneeze or someone talking. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The flu virus can be spread by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Period of Contagiousness and Onset of Symptoms
- You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
- People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
- Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
- Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
- The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days, but can range from about 1 to 4 days.
It is very difficult to distinguish flu from other viral or bacterial respiratory illnesses based on symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. Visit your health care provider if you think you have the flu. There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
12/14/2022 – Update on COVID-19 Booster and Flu Shot Requirements
9/12/2022 – Monkeypox Information
CDC COVID-19 Information by County
Indiana Dept of Health COVID-19 Resource Page
Indiana Dept of Health COVID-19 Dashboard Page
CDC Monkeypox Fact Sheet (June 2022)
CDC 2022 US Map & Case Count
Indiana Dept. of Health Monkeypox Resource Page
Monkeypox cases in the U.S. are way down — can the virus be eliminated? – https://www.npr.org/
Press Release: Indiana Health Dept. provides monkeypox update (7/29/22)