Omicron update and guidance from Dr. Friend

UA Community,

As our campus community comes together for the spring semester, I want to update you on what our campus medical professionals are observing with the omicron variant and share guidance for dealing with the virus’s ongoing impact.

We are seeing more positive tests in our clinics and anticipate that to continue in the coming days. Omicron is extraordinarily contagious, but cases are often mild and resolve quickly, especially among those vaccinated and boosted.

We continue to monitor local hospital capacity daily. Although numbers are increasing, ICU occupancy and patients who require oxygen are well below what we saw with previous surges. This is consistent with global data in countries that have already experienced an omicron spike.

Our doctors, nurses and medical professionals at both the University Medical Center and Student Health Center are ready to provide you with services and support.

Like last year, we should all prepare to adapt and adjust as students, faculty and staff may need to be out for a few days. Please be flexible and follow these guidelines:

  • Contact our CV19 COVID Support if you are sick with two or more COVID symptoms. Testing supplies are limited nationally, and asymptomatic testing is not recommended by the CDC.
  • Seek treatment if you are sick. Please be mindful of limited resources. Use common sense — if you normally have allergies this time of year, that may not require an emergency room or in-person doctor visit.
  • Those who test positive and can return home to recover should do so. While limited space is available on campus for those who can’t travel, the expectation will be to quarantine or isolate at home.
  • Faculty/instructors who need to temporarily switch to an online mode of instruction due to their need to quarantine or isolate should contact their department chair to seek approval from their dean and the provost.
  • Please be patient and understanding of others in our community. Both omicron and flu cases will be high during the coming weeks. Our staff at UMC and SHC have been heroes throughout the pandemic and will continue to meet the medical needs of our campus.

Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Wear a mask, and if you aren’t yet vaccinated and boosted, we strongly encourage you to get the vaccine.

The overall outlook for the spring semester is positive. Stay optimistic, be flexible and make wise decisions. Let’s all do our part to keep our community safe and preserve The University of Alabama experience. What this University is accomplishing — what you are doing — is too important to do otherwise.

Dr. Richard Friend
College of Community Health Sciences