The latest COVID-19 mutation has been detected in eleven states across the United States. According to data gathered by GISAID, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, variant BA 2.86 was found in Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Samples began surfacing from Arizona on September 18th.
Last week, the Biden administration relaunched its COVID-19 website to provide American households with four free at-home tests. The program will cost $600 million. You can place your order here. The United States Postal Service (USPS) will handle shipping.
The CDC reports a rise in weekly COVID-19 new hospitalizations going back to July, however, the number of reported hospitalizations is nearly half its total from last year.
Mark Denys, Temple University Senior Health Director, does not believe the latest COVID-19 mutation is much different from previous versions.
“The new variant does not look as though it’ll be different from the past versions of [COVID-19]. It does not look as though there is going to be any significant increase in signs or symptoms, or hospitalizations. It does look as though the immunizations we have now from either prior disease or prior vaccination is going to provide some protection against it.”
Denys added, “There’s still a lot unknown. They are still looking at things and studying it, but as of right now, it does not look to pose any serious threat beyond some of the other variants we’ve seen.”
Jonah Getz, a senior studying mechanical engineering at Temple, was asked for his first thoughts when hearing “COVID-19.” He responded, “ My first thought is that I’m positive. I had [COVID-19] last week.”
Students are encouraged to get COVID-19 booster vaccinations and flu shots this semester. Temple University Student Health Services has updated vaccines in limited quantities and can accessed at 1700 N. Broad Street. This option is only available to students with health insurance because Student Health Services will bill the student’s health insurance provider should they choose to receive a vaccination.
Students without health insurance can still get vaccinated through the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, which provides COVID-19 vaccines to adults at no cost. The program is offered at select locations so you will have to find your closest location here.
For those uninterested in getting vaccinated this semester, Denys has three tips for students and faculty to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and the flu on campus.
“Handwashing, staying home when you’re sick, and being aware of your signs and symptoms are the best ways folks can protect themselves and other people.”