1. Campus COVID-19 Update: Briefing video, travel recommendations

    October 8, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    We have seen a leveling off of COVID-19 cases among students, and overall activity in the surrounding community has been increasing slightly. We’re still not seeing clusters beyond the one off-campus cluster we reported a few weeks ago, and this is something we continually monitor.

    COVID-19 positivity rates remain low in the campus community including both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. U-M student cases currently represent only 7 percent of the cases in Washtenaw County (U-M’s 50,000 students would represent about 13 percent of the county’s population).

    Here are some additional updates at a glance:

    Campus COVID-19 Briefing: The video of this morning’s briefing is now available on my website, and it includes time stamps linking to the topics and questions we addressed, which included:

    • U-M’s wastewater surveillance program, led by labs in our School of Public Health and College of Engineering, which has shown a steady decline in COVID-19 activity consistent with what we’re seeing in the number of new cases.
    • U-M faculty research reporting genomic surveillance results that reveal little spread of COVID-19 between the campus and surrounding community.
    • Recommendations for virus testing as we approach the fall and winter travel seasons.
    • Our upcoming DEI Summit, whose theme is “Parallel Pandemics: Addressing Structural Racism in the Age of COVID-19.” I encourage everyone to participate in the summit’s many important events next week.

    Testing recommendations for travel: The University Record has details on the recommendations and resources we are providing for students, faculty and staff who will be traveling domestically or internationally in the coming months. Additionally, we are partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide free, pop-up, rapid antigen testing on campus during select dates in November and December. Please note that antigen testing does not meet current CDC requirements that specify PCR testing for international travel.

    Faculty concerns: The leadership team and I appreciate the broad engagement, collaboration and feedback from so many of our faculty members as we manage the pandemic on our campus. This includes SACUA, members of the SACUA-appointed COVID-19 council, those who helped to plan for our return to in-person instruction this fall, and the faculty, staff and expert consultants of our Campus Health Response Committee. This week’s Faculty Senate resolutions also raise important questions and offer advice, which we will consider as we move forward.

    COVID-19 and kids: In a Michigan Medicine Health Blog post, U-M pediatric cardiologist Jesse Hansen discusses the risk of myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection or, in rare instances,  vaccination, along with specific concerns for youth with congenital heart disease.

    I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You also may read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.

    Sincerely,

    Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
    President