Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated COVID-19 guidance, loosening many of its earlier recommendations in areas including quarantine and isolation, distancing, and asymptomatic screening testing. We realize that this strategic shift in the CDC’s pandemic management may prompt questions about possible changes to MBL protocols and requirements.
A few key principles have and will continue to guide our actions around COVID-19. We want to ensure:
- That our visitors—students, faculty, staff, conference attendees—can have a productive and useful experience during their short stays on our campus.
- That we minimize risk on campus to the extent possible arising from the large number of scientists and students who come to our campus from locations across the country and worldwide.
- That, in the case of outbreaks, our programs do not put any strain on the local healthcare system or on MBL operational staff.
Given the critical importance of all of these factors and because visiting education and research programs as well as conferences are continuing for several weeks ahead, the MBL will not change any of its COVID-related requirements at this time.
- Current mask requirements remain unchanged
- We will continue to require the regular vaccine course plus one booster for employees and those participating in visiting research and education programming
- Our current testing regimen for arriving courses will continue until further notice.
Note: this testing regimen includes our standard voluntary and mandatory testing programs, along with a new testing requirement for courses (instituted in June 2022) which includes a combination of rapid tests and COLOR lab entry testing on arrival. The new testing requirement for courses was added in response to a number of outbreaks in some courses, caused in part by people arriving to our campus already infected.
- Those who test positive (including staff) should continue to follow the “test to return” per MBL exposure protocols
Our COVID response team has been meeting weekly throughout the summer and will be starting fall planning shortly. In addition, I remain in regular contact with the University of Chicago’s operational planning team and will be conferring with them around how we might approach policies in the future.I would like to thank all the MBL staff involved in supporting the education and visiting research programs for their dedication and hard work this summer. Despite a few challenges along the way, we returned to full operations in both areas and from all available evidence it appears to have been a successful summer.
Chief Operating Officer