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COVID-19 Guidance Update —Protecting Yourself This Summer

Dear Members of the Harvard Community, 

Summer has officially arrived. As we approach the July 4th weekend, I would like to provide an update to help you consider what protections make sense for you. I encourage you to use this information to make informed decisions that balance local conditions with your own health status.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Suffolk and Middlesex counties have a low COVID-19 community level. With local test positivity rates around 7 percent and new subvariants emerging, COVID-19 is still circulating among us—but the risk it poses for the health of our community can be managed. 

Monitoring the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker and Harvard’s COVID-19 dashboard, as well as following the advice below will help you to manage risk. If community levels rise, consider adding layers of protection.

  • To reduce risk, wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask in crowded indoor settings, including on planes and public transit. Be prepared; always carry a mask.
  • When community levels are medium or low, maskless socializing is safer for those who are both up to date on vaccines and at low risk of severe complications. This is not a guarantee that you will not contract COVID-19.
  • If community levels are medium or high, those at higher risk should mask indoors. Seek early treatment if infected and symptomatic—do not wait for symptoms to worsen.
  • If community levels are high, everyone is advised to mask indoors.
  • Gather outdoors when possible. If indoors, open windows to increase air exchanges. 
  • If traveling, review the COVID situation at your destination. This will help you to determine safety measures.
  • Keep a supply of rapid tests handy—remember that 8 antigen tests per month can be ordered for free through private insurers—and test if you feel unwell. Do not assume your symptoms are just a cold or allergies. If your symptoms persist, test again. 

Each of us can do our part to protect our community. Stay home if you have symptoms and wear a mask if you must interact with others while sick, even if your test is negative. If you do test positive, notify Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) via Crimson Clear, and follow isolation protocols.

Respect those who wear a mask in mask-optional settings. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or marginalized for masking in a mask-optional setting. Each person’s risks are different. 

If you access PCR tests through the Color program: 

  • There will be no test kit collection or processing from Friday, July 1 – Monday, July 4. Test kit pick-up and processing will resume on Tuesday, July 5. 
  • Starting in July, test kits with the hard plastic swab will no longer be processed. Only use kits with the Q-tip style swab. 

Additionally, HUHS will pause Moderna vaccine clinics after Thursday, June 30 due to lower demand. We will still offer Pfizer vaccine clinics throughout the summer.

HUHS will continue to monitor hospitalization rates and other indicators of disease activity on campus and throughout Boston and Cambridge to ensure that our policies and protocols are effective. 

Enjoy the summer and thank you, as always, for doing your part to keep Harvard healthy.

Sincerely,

Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services