GSBS News and Updates:
Updated Feb. 22, 2021
CDC study finds double-masking offers more protection against COVID-19
On Feb. 10, the CDC released a research report that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. Read more here.
Changes to MD Anderson 1MC garage access and parking
As MD Anderson prepares for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Mid Campus Building 1 (1MC), the cancer center will be making adjustments to the buildings garage access and parking locations starting Thursday, Feb. 11.
Contract parkers and visitors should use the Bertner Avenue entrance and exit and park on Level 3, 5, and above. The Braeswood entrance and exit and parking Levels 1, 2, and 4 will be used for the vaccination clinics.
These parking policies will be in place until further notice.
As a reminder, you may request an escort to get you safely to your vehicle at any time. To do so, contact UT Police at 713-792-2890.
Texas governor extends state disaster declaration for COVID-19
On Feb. 4, 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott extended the state disaster declaration regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which states that COVID-19 poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in Texas. The declaration was originally issued in March 2020. Read more here.
CDC order requires face masks for public transportation
The CDC issued an order on Jan. 29. requiring people to wear a face mask while using any form of public transportation, including buses, trains, taxis, airplanes, boats, subways or ride-share vehicles while traveling into, within, and out of the U.S. Face masks must be worn while waiting, boarding, traveling and disembarking all forms of public transportation.
Masks need to be at least two or more layers of breathable fabric secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands. Masks fashioned out of scarves, bandanas, or the collars' of shirts or sweaters pulled over the mouth or nose do not fulfill the requires of the order.
The order goes into effect Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, at 10:59 p.m. CST
GSBS offers new need-based student assistance scholarships
The Graduate School is now offering need-based financial assistance to a number of GSBS students enrolled in a degree program and experiencing financial challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to get information and apply for this scholarship. Application deadline: 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12.
Information regarding 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine for UTHealth students, employees
UTHealth sent out an email to all students, faculty, and staff on Jan. 22 with information regarding the distribution location and protocols to follow for receiving the 2nd dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Click here for details (requires UTHealth credentials to access).
February parking rate update for MD Anderson garages
MD Anderson is continuing rate reductions of 50% at its garages and lots for the month of February. UTHealth-owned garages and lots returned to standard rates in October 2020, and TMC-owned garages and lots returned to standard rates in June 2020. Visit the GSBS Alerts Parking and Transit page for complete details.
Reminder about new requirement for all air passengers arriving in the US
Effective Tuesday, Jan. 26, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires travelers flying into the United States from international destinations to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. Students should review the CDC FAQ for International Travel for more details and information on this new requirement.
Students must then quarantine for 7 days post-travel and be tested again 3-5 days after arrival. Students should contact Student Health Services at 713-500-5171 for testing.
For more details regarding travel, please the GSBS Alerts Travel Advisories page.
UTHealth to serve as one of state's vaccine hubs
UTHealth, which includes clinical practices UT Physicians and UT Health Services, received notification on Jan. 16, that it was named a COVID-19 Vaccine Hub in Harris County by the Texas Department of State Health Services. UTHealth is waiting for more information and arrival of vaccine shipments from the state and will provide updates as available.
MD Anderson issues instructions on how to access your COVID-19 vaccination record
If you received your COVID-19 vaccination from MD Anderson, Click here to read more about how to get your vaccination record (requires MD Anderson credential to access). This is important proof of COVID-19 vaccination may be needed for travel and services in the future.
Houston area passes threshold for tougher COVID-19 restrictions
On Jan. 5, the Houston area surpassed a hospitalization threshold set by Gov. Greg Abbott that would tighten COVID-19 restrictions across the area. The region has seen COVID-19 patients make up 15% or more of the surrounding hospital capacity for seven days. Under Abbott’s orders, that automatically triggers restrictions that include the closure of all bars and a reduction of restaurant capacity to 50%. The restrictions would only lift if the region dropped below that 15% threshold for seven straight days. Read story here.
New resources added to the GSBS Alerts Health and Wellness page
The holiday season can be a stressful time during a normal year, but compounded with the coronavirus pandemic, you might be feeling more stress then in previous seasons. The Graduate School wants to remind you that the GSBS Alerts Health and Wellness page has several resources to help you manage stress and maintain overall wellness. New stories containing stress management tips and a link to the new #UTHealthWellness Connection blog have been added to the page's Wellness section. Just look for the links highlighted in blue text.
New policy at MD Anderson regarding screening at building entrances
Starting Saturday, December 12, MD Anderson will institute a new disciplinary policy for individuals who do not comply with entry screening protocols for all research buildings. The cancer center had a large spike in individuals failing to screen over Thanksgiving (screeners were not on duty at the research buildings; therefore, people entering had to go elsewhere to be screened to gain access to facilities) and again this past weekend there was a significant spike. Repeat offenders could potentially have their MD Anderson building access revoked for five days. Read more here.
CDC recommends people wear masks indoors when not at home
On December 4, the CDC published a report which included “universal mask use” indoors and anywhere outside of an individual's home. Face masks remain one of the best tools to fight the coronavirus, which is transmitted through droplets spread by people when they cough, sneeze, or talk loudly. Read the full report here.
CDC updates guidelines for quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their quarantine guidelines on December 2 and now recommend two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms quarantine can end:
- On day 10 without testing
- On day 7 after receiving a negative test result
UTHealth is adopting the same quarantine guidelines as the CDC, but MD Anderson is not making any change to the quarantine guidelines at the cancer center. Click here for more information about the MD Anderson quarantine guidelines here (Requires MD Anderson credentials to access).
If you are a student who is working on the COVID-19 response by making masks, organizing supply deliveries, etc., we want to highlight you! Please contact GSBS Senior Communication Specialist Tracey Barnett to share your story.
GSA anonymous survey for concerns during COVID-19: Unedited responses will be forwarded to GSBS Deans' Office. The GSA and GSBS Deans' Office will address issues and provide further assistance.
The actions below are effective until further notice:
- The Graduate School administrative offices will be closed and staffers will be working remotely until further notice. This closure will minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission to patients located in the MD Anderson main hospital, which is adjacent to the MD Anderson Mitchell Building - home of the GSBS administrative offices. While we may not be in our physical offices, the GSBS staff is still here for our students and faculty. If you need to reach out to us via email, click here to find our departmental directory or email us at Talk2GSBS@uth.tmc.edu.
- All GSBS didactic courses will be moved online. The school will contact course coordinators with more information on this change.
- All GSBS students must utilize technologies, such as Webex, for all academic meetings, including advisory meetings, candidacy exams, and thesis defenses/public seminars, as well as student group events. Get more information here.
- All advising meetings with GSBS staffers will be held via phone or Webex. Contact the appropriate staff member to coordinate meeting arrangements.
- The Graduate School will be extending deadlines for all academic milestones for current students in all degree programs for a period of one semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have questions, please contact Bill Mattox, PhD, or Natalie Sirisaengtaksin, PhD (PhD students) / Eric Swindell, PhD (MS students).