Alert status changes to Yellow and Omicron emerges

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A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


  • Campus status changes to Yellow (“low to moderate risk”) reflecting public health conditions and the emergence of Omicron
  • Those with a weekly testing requirement are asked to get a second test this week
  • Those without a testing requirement are encouraged to test twice this week
  • Test and isolate with any symptoms
  • Get vaccinations and boosters as soon as possible
  • Students should avoid travel for the rest of the semester and choose delivery or pick-up options versus off-campus, in person dining
  • Avoid large indoor gatherings that are not university sponsored
  • Follow all university health and safety guidelines

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

As many of you may know, public health conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve. In recent weeks, we have seen increases in COVID-19 infections on campus, across the state of Connecticut, and in many parts of the country. While these increases have been driven largely by the transmission of the Delta variant, a new variant of concern, Omicron, has emerged and been detected in a number of countries outside of the United States. Our university public health experts and researchers are actively evaluating the characteristics and impacts of the Omicron variant and regularly exchange information with state, national, and international public health organizations. However, because we do not yet know for certain how this new variant will respond to vaccines, how transmissible it may be, or what symptoms it causes, we must be cautious as additional information is gathered.

In light of current local public health conditions and uncertainties about the Omicron variant, the university has changed the Yale COVID-19 alert level from Green (“lower risk”) to Yellow (“low to moderate risk”). The goal of this change and the related guidance below is to allow us to identify and isolate any infections on campus as quickly as possible and to reduce the risk of importing infections from off-campus activities during the final weeks of the semester.

What do I need to do?

The change in the campus alert level is accompanied by several important updates to our health and safety guidelines. These include:

  • Additional testing
    • Anyone with a routine weekly testing requirement is asked to get a second COVID-19 test this week.
    • Anyone who traveled over the Thanksgiving break and does not have a routine testing requirement is encouraged to test twice this week.
    • The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program will increase test appointment capacity by extending test site hours this week and will also introduce unobserved self-administered nasal swab tests for experienced testers. Watch this instructional video to review the testing process.
    • We are confident that both our symptomatic (Yale New Haven Hospital) and asymptomatic (Broad) test laboratories are able to detect infections due to the Omicron variant.
  • Limiting travel
    • Students are asked to limit all non-essential travel for the rest of the semester.
    • Yesterday, the World Health Organization issued additional cautions for travelers, and the U.S. government is likely to do so in the very near future. Everyone should stay informed of changes in federal travel requirements and guidance by consulting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and university websites when planning holiday travel.
  • Getting vaccinated or a booster
    • This week, the CDC strengthened its recommendation for COVID-19 vaccine boosters. All adults 18 years of age and older who received their initial series of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine six or more months ago, or the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine two or more months ago, should get a booster dose.
    • The university is strongly encouraging anyone who is eligible for a booster to get one as soon as possible.
    • Vaccine appointments for adult initial vaccinations and boosters, and for vaccinations for children ages 5-17, are available through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program and at sites across the state.
  • Limiting off-campus indoor gatherings
    • Students are strongly encouraged to use delivery, take-out, or curbside pickup options when supporting local establishments, and to avoid off-campus indoor dining and bars.
    • Everyone should avoid large indoor gatherings that are not university sponsored (see below) and especially those that take place in spaces where the building ventilation and/or the vaccination status of attendees is unknown.
  • Attending university-sponsored gatherings
    • University-sponsored events, such as holiday gatherings, that have already been planned in accordance with our health and safety guidelines may go forward.
    • If you have any symptoms, even if mild, please refrain from attending these (or any other) gatherings and get tested.
    • Even if you have no symptoms, consider getting tested before attending large gatherings.
  • Continuing to mask indoors
    • University policy and CDC guidance requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to mask indoors in all public spaces except when eating or drinking. Given current conditions and uncertainties about Omicron, it is especially important that we all adhere to this requirement.
    • Anyone who is unvaccinated should also physically distance whenever possible.
  • Limiting visitors to those who are vaccinated and approved in accordance with the university’s visitor policy
    • Anyone planning to host a visitor should review the visitors policy for more guidance.
    • Hosts should consider asking visitors to test before arriving to campus.
  • Isolating and getting a symptomatic test if you have ANY symptoms
    • As Delta infections continue to rise and we learn more about the Omicron variant, it is extremely important to monitor for any symptoms, even mild, of COVID-19. If you experience any symptoms, you must:
      • schedule a symptomatic test immediately and
      • stay isolated until you receive a negative test.
    • If you need any advice or information about symptoms or testing, you may call the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604 (toll free 866-924-9253), 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Once again, we are called upon to strengthen efforts to safeguard our health and that of the community around us by using all the layers of our preventative strategies—including getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, testing frequently, and avoiding activities that increase risks for COVID-19 transmission. I will continue to provide updates, particularly as we learn more about Omicron over the coming days. In the meantime, I want to thank you again for your diligence in following this guidance, staying informed, and working together to keep our campus and our community as safe as possible.

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator