To All Members of the Campus Community:
This morning’s Campus COVID-19 Briefing focused primarily on the current conditions on our campus, discussed them in the context of evolving public health understanding and guidance, and shared how some of our foremost experts are thinking about campus life now and going forward. We also addressed questions and concerns we’ve heard about some of the processes and safety measures we have in place.
A video of the briefing is now available on my website, and it includes time stamps linking to the topics and questions we addressed.
Joining Provost Susan M. Collins and me were:
- Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon
- Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani, a physician and member of our Campus Health Response Committee
- Rob Ernst, a physician who chairs our Campus Health Response Committee, associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and executive director of the University Health Service
- Emily Martin, associate professor of epidemiology in our School of Public Health and member of our Campus Health Response Committee
Key updates at a glance:
- Campus conditions: Cases have increased and are primarily linked to social gatherings. Recent small clusters were identified and addressed in an off-campus residence and in Michigan Medicine. Our COVID-19 data dashboard narratives earlier this week noted our Campus Response Metrics status. Symptoms among students have generally been mild, and overall activity in the surrounding community has otherwise remained stable.
- Campus response: To address increased University Health Service testing demand, we’ve identified additional resources. Asymptomatic testing remains available through our Community Sampling and Tracking Program. The increase in cases was anticipated with the large increase in our campus population, and we are continuing to isolate and quarantine students as needed and closely monitor positivity rates.
- Vaccines are effective: Our vaccination levels are increasing: 94% of students, 93% of faculty and 79% of staff have reported their status. Widespread vaccination is the most important thing we can do as a community to limit the spread of disease and the severity of illness. Emerging data back this up. A Los Angeles County analysis of cases during the Delta variant surge showed the rate of infection is 5 times lower for the vaccinated, and the hospitalization rate is 29 times lower even as the Delta variant became the most common cause of COVID-19. These data offer tremendous reassurance in a highly vaccinated community.
- State and federal guidance: Our public health experts are working with campus partners to adjust contact tracing in accordance with new classroom guidance released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. We’ll also evaluate regulations stemming from President Biden’s announcement of an emergency rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
- If you’re sick: Please isolate and seek testing if you have COVID-19 symptoms. We’re seeing an increase in close contact cases among students.
- Data dashboard: The case and percent positivity data that were previously dropped from the Campus Maize and Blueprint COVID-19 data dashboard has been restored and is displayed through this week. The dashboard team continues to review data feeds as part of the investigation into what caused the error impacting these data.
We will schedule Campus COVID-19 Briefings when needed, and I’ll continue to provide updates 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. Stay safe and be healthy.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.