Students, faculty and staff are no longer required to complete the Daily Health Check, the university announced in an online bulletin Friday.
The Daily Health Check was introduced in late summer 2020 as a virtual screening tool to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. But near-universal vaccine adoption among students — and a low on-campus infection rate — contributed to UB’s decision to phase out the campaign.
“This decision took into account the high vaccination rate at UB among students (99%) and employees (nearly 90%),” Thomas Russo, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the UB Department of Medicine, told The Spectrum. “Further, additional mitigation measures, such as mask usage, make our campus one of the safest venues in Western New York and the state.”
Russo says that after 20 months of the pandemic, students and staff know how to proceed when COVID-19 issues arise. He attributes that knowledge to the university’s messaging through its website and various platforms.
UB spokesperson John DellaContrada says that as of Oct. 29, 80% of regular users were students. But The Spectrum spoke to a couple dozen students who say they stopped completing the Daily Health Check at the start of the semester, or even earlier.
Students, faculty and staff should have stopped receiving text message reminders to complete the Daily Health Check on Monday, according to the university. Community members who still receive reminders “may disregard it — no further action is needed.”
Since the summer of 2020, roughly 31,954 people have used the Daily Health Check — amounting to nearly 2.8 million attestations, according to the university. In its place, officials say they will continue to require face coverings while indoors, proof of vaccination at certain campus events and weekly testing, for unvaccinated community members.
Students are urged to “stay home when they feel sick,” even as the Daily Health Check is phased out.
UB also “strongly encourages” students to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, but has not made it mandatory, like it did with the first round of the vaccine. The CDC expanded the number of people eligible for booster shots to those aged 18+ who live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions or work or live in high-risk settings.
Students who live in university-run housing and received their Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna series at least six months ago are eligible for a booster shot, as a result of their high-risk congregate setting designation.
UB has a rolling 14-day average of 41 estimated total positive COVID-19 cases, as of Oct. 29, according to the SUNY COVID-19 Tracker.
Justin Weiss is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.