March 9, 2021
TO: USC Faculty and University Staff
CC: USC Students
FR: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health, Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Felicia A. Washington, Senior Vice President for Human Resources
Charles F. Zukoski, USC Provost
RE: COVID-19 Update
Current COVID-19 metrics in Los Angeles County have recently trended in a more favorable direction, with daily rates of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all trending downward. Averaging 9.7 new cases per 100,000 people, LA County is moving closer to a safer tier in the state’s reopening roadmap for permitted activities. We are cautiously optimistic that if this trend continues in the right direction, additional reopenings may be safely instituted in our region.
The COVID-19 vaccines that are available are a crucial part of coming closer to the end of the pandemic, especially as data is developing on the new variants that are continuing to circulate.
- We encourage all USC employees to sign up for a vaccine through myturn.ca.gov to book a vaccine appointment as soon as one is available. Appointments are also available through the City of Los Angeles website. New appointments are added regularly as vaccine supplies become available.
On campus, as of this week, USC Student Health will be administering the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine (requires only 1 dose) at the Lyon Center at UPC. As with the mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), the viral vector-based J&J/Janssen vaccine is highly effective, with an 85% efficacy rate of preventing severe symptoms. Both types of vaccines are extremely – and likely equally – effective. We will continue to offer vaccination to on-site employees in the occupational risk categories and we encourage all USC employees to pursue avenues throughout the County and the public sites to get vaccinated at the earliest availability.
As a reminder, the following protocols apply to all accessing the campuses—even for those who have completed vaccinations:
- All campus activities, including allowing employees to return to campus locations for on-site work, will reopen or ramp-up as permitted by LADPH higher education guidelines and must follow an approved restart plan that is submitted through the University Restart process and approved by Environmental Health and Safety. All other employees who can work from home should continue to work from home.
- All events and gatherings (outside of approved, physically distanced programs held in the canopy sections) are prohibited.
- All public health precautions—wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distances, and regular COVID-19 testing—are required for any individuals accessing the campuses.
- All travel continues to pose increased community risk and should be approached judiciously, particularly with COVID-19 variants in circulation in California.
As we edge closer to ending the pandemic, vaccination combined with continued safety precaution is our best and only path to restoring the in-person connectedness we had just over a year ago. We look forward to moving closer to being a physically connected community, with your continued vigilance and cooperation.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay strong, Trojans. We’re nearly there.