| by Mark Peluso

Faculty, Staff, Fall 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We are writing with some updates about COVID-19 monitoring, Vermont Department of Health testing registration, and the latest on wastewater testing strategies.

This update is designed as a quick reference to contribute to the understanding of how we continue to manage the pandemic at Middlebury and to offer helpful hints. Some of the information is in response to your questions about specific strategies. As always, the latest information can be found in the Fall GuideCOVID-19 Reporting Dashboard, the Campus Status page and Announcements

Please note that we have provided some additional explanation about test results on the Reporting Dashboard, and that new entries on the Campus Status page are date stamped to indicate the latest changes.

Daily Monitoring

In addition to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Department of Health guidance, we monitor a number of factors in assessing prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus. These factors include:

  • Campus vaccination rates: 99 percent for students, 98 percent for employees.
  • The seven-day test positivity rate: Currently zero percent, with no positive results of 565 student tests taken on campus Monday.
  • Symptomatic seven-day positivity rate: Currently zero percent, with no positive tests among 109 tests taken.
  • Number of days since last positive result among student tests: nine.
  • Number of positive student cases in isolation: one.

State of Vermont Updates

We monitor prevalence rates in Addison County and throughout the state on a daily basis, and Governor Phil Scott gives a weekly update on the state of the pandemic and other related matters each Tuesday at noon. We encourage you to watch these updates, which provide a comprehensive overview of the latest conditions and guidelines as well as how Vermont compares to other states. All of the press conferences are recorded and available online. In the October 4 update, the Vermont Department of Health and Department of Financial Regulation highlighted the following:

  • New cases in the United States have decreased by 10.2 percent over last week.
  • New cases in New England have decreased by 8.8 percent over the last week.
  • Positive cases are increasing in Maine and New Hampshire but decreasing in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.
  • In Vermont:
    • Cases have decreased by 23 percent over the last 14 days. 
    • The seven-day test positivity rate is 2.5 percent.
    • Higher education institutions had a total of 19 cases last week out of 4,516 tests (a 0.42 percent positivity rate).
    • The case rate over the past two weeks is 4.3 times higher in unvaccinated individuals versus those who are fully vaccinated.
    • Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are decreasing.
    • Each new case on average results in one new infection.
  • Addison County has the lowest number of active cases per million among Vermont counties. 

Signing Up for a Test

Employees have several options for testing off campus. Here are a few of them:

  • Create an account and sign up for COVID-19 testing at a Vermont Department of Health testing site in Middlebury or other locations statewide. (This is not necessary if you made a testing or vaccination appointment in the past). There were about a dozen available slots for asymptomatic or symptomatic individuals on both Tuesday and Wednesday in Middlebury within 24 hours.
  • Porter Medical Center offers testing by appointment only at the Ambulatory Respiratory Clinic, on the main campus, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. Please call 802-388-8865 to schedule your appointment.
  • Testing is available through most major pharmacies in Vermont, including Kinney DrugsWalgreensCVS and others.
  • Garnet offers same-day PCR and Antigen testing in South Burlington. 

Contact Tracing Procedures

Please refer to the Procedures for Potential Exposures of Students and Employees section of the September 30 End of Student Arrival Period Protocols and Procedures announcement.

Wastewater Testing

We have received some questions about whether Middlebury should employ wastewater testing for COVID-19. We evaluated this option last spring but determined it was not a viable strategy for Middlebury. We have learned that it has not proved reliable on other campuses and in some cases resulted in unnecessary quarantine of entire dorms. Subsequent PCR testing found no active cases. Because viral material can be found on tests for up to 90 days after an acute COVID-19 infection, routine testing of individuals in that cohort is not recommended. We will continue to evaluate this option periodically as technology and experience evolves.

Thank you for your attention to these updates and for continuing to keep our community healthy and safe. We will share more information about Fall Break and Thanksgiving travel in an upcoming update as well as information about flu shot clinics.


Mark Peluso 

Chief Health Officer and College Physician