As flu season approaches, the risk of another COVID-19 spike looms over the final month of the semester.
While reported COVID-19 case numbers are staying consistently low on campus, rising cases statewide and in El Paso County combined with increased flu risk may motivate students to take health precautions in the winter months.
“We are not notified of all cases associated with our campus but the numbers are staying consistently low,” said Lacie Fedewa, a family nurse practitioner at the Wellness Center. “In October, we had 13 cases during the month that we are aware of. There are so many home tests now that we are not always aware of positive cases if they are not reported.”
Fedewa believes that part of the reason for lower numbers is the prevalence of milder COVID-19 strains and effective vaccines.
“The strains are milder and vaccines are helping prevent infections or improving outcomes with COVID,” Fedewa said. “We recommend staying up to date on COVID and influenza vaccines to lessen risk of contracting and lessen severity of infections if you do contract them.”
Although COVID-19 cases are not as widespread as they once were, precautions like masking and social distancing remain effective and are recommended especially for anyone who is immunocompromised.
According to The Denver Post, hospitalizations from COVID-19 cases are seeing a fairly dramatic increase in Colorado entering flu season.
The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment reported a weekly average of about 1,129 cases on Nov. 19, up from the weekly average of about 718 cases on Oct. 29. In the week of Nov. 22, 387 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, up from the 218 people hospitalized in the week of Nov. 1.
El Paso County Public Health reported a total of 2,353 cases and 103 hospitalizations between Nov. 1 and Nov. 21.
While it is early in the season, flu cases at UCCS are also staying fairly low.
Fedewa said there have been four positive influenza cases in the last month. “This is early for influenza cases in our population so far, but the numbers are still low and we are continuing to monitor it.”
Students wanting to keep healthy during these winter months should focus on washing their hands consistently, eating and sleeping well, managing stress and staying up to date on appropriate vaccines. Anyone who is sick should refer to CDC guidelines for masking and isolation.
If a student suspects they might be sick, they can schedule an appointment with the Wellness Center for evaluation by calling 719-255-4444.
Photo from darkecountyhealth.org.