University gives updates on COVID-19 and Monkeypox diseases in Kent community

A room in the Business Administrative Building still has a Face Covering Required sign posted on the outside of the door even after the university ended their mask mandate.

Anthony Zacharyasz

A room in the Business Administrative Building still has a “Face Covering Required” sign posted on the outside of the door even after the university ended their mask mandate.

Anthony Zacharyasz, Reporter

With the new semester underway at Kent State University, the university and the city of Kent are looking for ways to keep all community members safe from COVID-19 and Monkeypox diseases.

The city of Kent has been collaborating with the university, specifically the DeWeese Health Center located on the Kent campus, on preparing for the Fall 2022 semester. This included the two entities discussing ways of keeping everyone healthy and providing different resources to community members, including vaccine administration.

Joan Seidel is the city of Kent Health Commissioner. (Courtesy of Kent State University)

Vaccines for COVID-19 are available to students and faculty at the DeWeese Health Center, while the city of Kent also has vaccines available for community members. The city of Kent Health Commissioner and Kent State alumna, Joan Seidel, said the city of Kent is anticipating receiving enhanced versions of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines by the end of the week of Sept. 5 or the start of the week of Sept. 12.

Not only are vaccines available for COVID-19, but also for the Monkeypox disease now, Seidel said. The city of Kent Health Department will administer Monkeypox vaccines where “there is a need for it,” she said.

Even though there has been one confirmed case of Monkeypox in Portage County, Seidel said there are no confirmed Monkeypox cases in the city of Kent.

Kent State University also has not confirmed any Monkeypox cases on any of its campuses.

The university has provided on its website a list of “Flashes Safety Principles” that include protocols surrounding both COVID-19 and Monkeypox diseases.

The university changed its protocol regarding COVID-19 in late August in an email that was sent to students, faculty and staff. This included the elimination of mask mandates around most parts of the university’s campuses.

Melissa Zullo is the Pandemic Institutionalization Effort Director at Kent State. (Courtesy of Kent State University)

“The era of mandates for COVID-19 are pretty much over with because it’s just circulating so much in the communities,” Seidel said.

However, on some classroom doors around the Kent campus, there are signs posted stating that face coverings are required. Melissa Zullo, a professor of epidemiology and the Pandemic Institutionalization Effort Director at Kent State, said that those signs should have been taken down as a result of the mask mandate being lifted.

“Kent State may require masks again if [the university] [sees] a variant of COVID-19 that greatly increases hospitalizations, deaths or if we have large, unexpected spikes in cases in our community,” Zullo said.

Students, faculty and community members now cannot see the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, which included weekly updates on COVID-19 cases on KSU’s campuses, after it was stated on the university’s website that COVID-19 had become an endemic disease. The reason COVID-19 data on the dashboard was terminated was “because in general, testing information is not as accurate as it used to be,” Zullo said.

The city of Kent Health Department will monitor cases for both COVID-19 and Monkeypox, while also continuing to put out education for community members on those at high risk and ways of prevention, Seidel said.

To receive information on where to receive a vaccine shot for either COVID-19 or Monkeypox, contact the city of Kent Health Department or DeWeese Health Center.

Anthony Zacharyasz is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]