Letter: Taking Precautions Amid Increased COVID-19 Cases

April 13, 2022

Dear UMB Community:

COVID-19 infections and exposure reports have risen at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) over the last month. We expected some increase when we loosened our protective measures, but the BA.2 variant is contributing to a more rapid spread.
I am writing to arm you with information you need to make the best choices for yourself, and I am sharing what extra precautions you can take to help stop the spread.
From the data the UMB Public Health team is receiving from students, faculty, and staff, the University has seen more positive cases in the first half of April than were reported in all of March.


UMB received the following reported COVID-19 cases: 329 in January, 68 in February, 53 in March and 54 at the midpoint of April.

While that is a sharp uptick, national modeling has shown that this is expected to be a small bump in the road if we continue to take precautions.
Here’s what each of us can do to help stop the spread now:
  • For the time being, please use good judgment and consider wearing a mask indoors while at UMB, and please consider doing the same while in indoor areas in the community. Here's why:
    • If you are inside and unmasked near another unmasked person who is then found to be positive, you will be considered a close contact, and follow-up testing will be required. And, if you are not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations, you will be advised to quarantine.

    • If you were wearing a tight-fitting KN95 or equivalent mask when this exposure happened, you would not need to report this contact or get follow-up testing.
    • Or, if the positive person had been wearing a mask, they would have prevented close-contact exposures to others.
    • You can see how more use of masks indoors will prevent not only infection, but also significant hassle!
  • It can be difficult to judge what type of COVID-19 risk you might have while attending events, parties, and concerts given the new environment we are in. Use this COVID-19 Event Risk Tool from Georgia Tech to give you a perspective on your risk of being in the same space as someone with COVID-19, based on the county and number of people present.
  • Get your COVID-19 vaccination booster if you are eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people over the age of 50 receive an additional booster four months after receiving their first booster dose. People age 12 and older who are immunocompromised can receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and people age 18 and older who are immunocompromised can receive a second booster dose of the Moderna vaccine. More information can be found here. Note that University of Maryland Immediate Care has vaccines for students and will welcome employees for booster shots after April 18. Call 667-214-1800 to schedule.
  • Do not come to campus if you are feeling sick, if you are showing symptoms compatible with COVID-19, and especially if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • If you have had a known exposure, please wear a tight-fitting KN95 or equivalent mask when around other people for the time period after exposure when you are monitoring symptoms and getting tested.
  • Please use the COVID-19 Report Form when you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms that may be due to COVID-19, or had a close contact exposure.

    • Note that if you test positive for COVID-19, the EARLIEST you may be able to return to campus is six days later, and that is only if you are feeling better AND have a negative rapid antigen test on Day 5 and Day 6. Please do not return earlier just because you are feeling well — you can be without symptoms and still spread the virus.
    • When using the form, please remember to check your email after submitting. The email will provide specific instructions, including possible recommendations for you to not come to campus, get tested, and isolate. (Additionally, if you receive an error message when opening the form, please use an alternate Web browser.)
The UMB COVID-19 Isolation/Quarantine Protocols will provide a quick-glance reference for your situation, but to receive specific direction for your case, you are encouraged to use the COVID-19 Report Form.
If you need more guidance, visit the federal government’s new one-stop website, COVID.gov.
Thank you for doing your part to keep yourself and the UMB community safe.
Stay healthy,
Marianne Cloeren, MD, MPH
Associate Professor
University of Maryland School of Medicine
UMB Public Health Officer