To All Members of the Campus Community:
Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and clusters of students testing positive, including for the more easily transmitted B.1.1.7 variant, reinforce the need for us to urge caution and emphasize safe and healthy behaviors to protect our community.
The Washtenaw County Health Department, in partnership with our campus public health professionals, issued Wednesday’s Stay in Place recommendation for undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled on the Ann Arbor campus to help contain the outbreak. The county notes that “more stringent, mandatory actions may be imposed if this outbreak continues to grow and additional variant clusters are identified.”
As we said in our message Wednesday, pressing the pause button on nonessential activities will help us protect each other from illness and preserve our ability to eventually resume more normal activities as we continue our vaccination efforts.
COVID-19 Testing Reminder
I encourage all students to obtain COVID-19 tests through campus resources because it allows us to immediately begin care and case investigation. It also is the only way we can identify the B.1.1.7 variant, as we can only further test specimens obtained through U-M for variant strains.
We have seen a large increase in testing by off-campus students, and I thank all who are participating in this important safety measure.
The university offers asymptomatic testing six days a week for those with no exposures, including undergraduates doing mandatory testing. The University Health Service (UHS) offers testing seven days a week for students with symptoms, close contacts and exposures. Appointments can be self-scheduled for both. Positive results from tests obtained through U-M will be tested for COVID-19 variants.
Michigan Medicine received enough COVID-19 vaccine this week to continue vaccinating patients age 65 and older, while continuing to provide vaccines to U-M community members in the Phase 1A and 1B categories. COVID-19 vaccine supply remains very limited, and vaccines are available by invited appointment only at our community vaccination clinic sites.
Michigan Medicine continues to post answers to campus vaccination questions, including links to access the Blue Queue questionnaire, here. Please fill out the Blue Queue questionnaire even if you don’t want the vaccine. Information for patients, family members, and the broader community can be found on Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine page.
Campus COVID-19 Briefing
The video for this week’s Campus COVID-19 Briefing is available here. We will continue to hold these biweekly on Fridays, alternating with Michigan Medicine’s Friday Town Halls. At today’s briefing:
- Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions and important reminders and recommendations for our community.
- Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed the impact of the B.1.1.7 variant and the importance of containing the spread of COVID-19.
- Provost Susan M. Collins discussed libraries and study spaces, hiring, faculty travel, and campus tours by prospective students and their families.
- Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed first-year students struggling to meet new friends and Student Life services and facilities.
- Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease physician and one of the co-leads of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Therapeutics Task Force, discussed U-M’s vaccination efforts.
- Adam Lauring, a physician specializing in infectious diseases, discussed details about the B.1.1.7 strain of the coronavirus.
Each also answered several questions from the community.
- The University of Michigan’s ResponsiBLUE app now includes new features that better connect users to on-campus COVID-19 testing and better supports the health and safety of the campus community during the pandemic.
- Michigan Medicine has shared a blog post to address “What Happens After You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?” with information from Beth Moore, interim chair and professor of microbiology and immunology. The post covers what happens as soon as one minute after receiving the shot and up to six weeks later.
- Some of our faculty and staff shared why they are getting the COVID-19 vaccine in this video from Michigan Medicine.
- The Campus COVID-19 Call Center serves the campus community by connecting them to U-M resources and support during the pandemic. To reach the hotline, please call 734-936-7000. Call center hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
During the semester, I will continue to provide weekly COVID-19 updates to help keep everyone informed and address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You may also read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.
Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.