In the fall of 2020, the UIC COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Epidemiology program observed a sharp increase in cases following the Halloween weekend, when many large and small campus gatherings brought together people infected with COVID-19. Characteristically, attendees met indoors, didn’t wear masks, practiced social distancing, and generally shared drinks or food.
A similar increase in cases occurred in the fall of 2021, after the Halloween weekend. This high level of disease persisted through November and spiked in December and January when members of the UIC community visited family members for winter vacation and the omicron variant emerged.
As we approach Halloween and prepare for a number of festivities, we would like to remind you of the following tips to protect yourself, your friends and loved ones, and the UIC community:
- Get vaccinated if you haven’t already. If you haven’t yet received the updated COVID-19 reminder, consider scheduling it now.
- Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others from serious illness from COVID-19.
- Do not attend parties or gather with other people if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild.
- Consider getting tested before an event or social gathering.
- Testing is especially important when multiple households come together.
- The saliva test is quick, convenient and without an appointment.
- While PCR tests are the most reliable, COVID-19 self-tests are easy to use, produce quick results, and can be found in pharmacies or online.
- It is recommended to repeat the test if you attend a gathering.
- If you’re hosting a gathering, try to stay outside as much as possible. Indoors, opening windows increases the ventilation of a space and reduces the number of COVID-19 virus particles.
- Serve packaged or pre-portioned snacks and drinks. You should not share food or drink with other people.
- Practice good hand hygiene if you or your family are doing tricks by bringing hand sanitizer. If you hand out candy, be sure to wash your hands frequently.
UIC faculty and staff who wish to receive the University Health Service COVID-19 bivalent reminder can schedule an appointment through Immuware.
UIC has also updated its COVID-19 dashboard, which shows the number of COVID-19 cases among UIC students and employees, as shown in UIC contact tracing.
To minimize the spread of COVID-19, the university has implemented isolation and post-exposure procedures for all members of the UIC community who have been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19. Please see updated isolation and exposure guidelines.