Q&A with Dr. Melissa Marks

Jan. 12, 2022

Dr. Marks is the director of medical services at University Health Services (UHS). She is a Class of 1986 graduate with over 20 years of experience in pediatric, adolescent and young adult medicine. Dr. Marks joined Princeton in May 2020 to oversee UHS’ outpatient medical services, athletic medicine, global and community health, occupational health and the Infirmary, and to help coordinate the University’s response to the pandemic.

What do we know about the Omicron variant?

We know that the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original strain of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, and that persons with the Omicron infection, even if they are vaccinated and/or asymptomatic, can still transmit the virus to others. 

What can we do to combat the Omicron variant?

Vaccines and boosters, well-fitting masks, social distancing, and handwashing remain the most useful tools we have to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19, and to slow the pace of its transmission. While breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are still likely to occur, vaccines have remained effective at decreasing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death, even with the Omicron variant. Frequent testing and isolation of persons who are positive continue to be essential measures that we are employing on campus to mitigate spread. As we learn more about the Omicron variant and its manifestation in our community, our mitigation measures may change. The pandemic is fluid and we must continuously respond and adjust.

Which type of face covering should I wear?

Many face coverings offer protection against all variants. While KN95 masks are ideal, the most important aspect of the mask is the fit. The CDC provides guidance about what a face covering must have to be effective:

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask

When should I get a booster if I’ve tested positive for COVID?

It is recommended that you get a booster as soon as you’ve completed your isolation period, however, you have up to 90 days after the date of your positive PCR test to get a booster. 

What should I do if I test positive for COVID off campus?

First, you should self-isolate in the home. Next, please inform your supervisor that you will not be coming to work. For further instructions please see the COVID Resources website. When you are able, please email Global and Community Health at communityhealth@princeton.edu with your positive test result. A Global and Community Health staff member will be in contact with you either by phone or email, when your isolation period has ended and you are able to return to campus.