1. Weekly U-M Ann Arbor COVID-19 Update

    February 12, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    Here are the main updates at-a-glance:

    • COVID-19 cases associated with U-M represent about half of the total cases in Washtenaw County, and student cases are rising.
    • The compliance date for our expansion of mandatory COVID-19 testing to graduate and professional students is Feb. 16.
    • The change in the state of Michigan’s distribution strategy and the nationwide shortage of available vaccine prevented Michigan Medicine from scheduling additional first-dose vaccination appointments this week for employees and patients.
    • Michigan Medicine is recommending that U-M employees age 65 and older, and those defined by the state as frontline essential workers, also sign up with their local health department and retail pharmacies to maximize their chances of receiving a vaccination appointment.

    More details, links and additional information are provided below.

    Campus COVID-19 Update

    We are seeing increases in student COVID-19 cases, spread across all levels of students and largely due to social gatherings. New cases amongst faculty and staff are at a low level and are not increasing. Overall, U-M cases represent about half of the total cases in Washtenaw County.

    The compliance date for our expansion of mandatory testing to graduate and professional students is Feb. 16. I want to compliment the students who are living in our residence halls for their diligence in participating in testing. Compliance among undergraduates who live on campus has been consistently 95 percent or better. We are working to drive higher compliance amongst off-campus students.

    We continue to urge everyone to get tested regularly through U-M resources, avoid social gatherings, wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested through the University Health Service or Occupational Health Services. Weekly asymptomatic testing is open to all U-M students, faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus, including Michigan Medicine employees. The link provides signup and scheduling information and describes expanded hours at the Towsley site for all community members.

    Testing helps us identify COVID-19 cases and diminish spread to others. But it remains critical, especially with the presence of more transmissible virus strains in our community, that everyone rigorously adheres to the simple measures that prevent spread – face coverings, social distancing, avoiding congregating in groups, and washing hands frequently. It is particularly important that those who develop symptoms get tested for COVID-19, preferably on campus through UHS or OHS.

    Vaccination Update

    Michigan Medicine wasn’t able to schedule additional first-dose vaccination appointments this week due to a change in the state of Michigan’s distribution strategy and the nationwide shortage of available vaccine. Additional details are available in the University Record.

    The smaller shipments of vaccine received from the state will be used primarily for second doses for those who are due, including vaccinated employees at the Flint and Dearborn campuses.

    Michigan Medicine is recommending that U-M employees age 65 and older, and those defined by the state as frontline essential workers, also sign up with their local health department and retail pharmacies to maximize their chances of receiving a vaccination appointment.

    I know that many of you are frustrated. We are providing every dose we can. We remain able to deliver 12,000 vaccines a week and can ramp up to twice that if we have the supply.

    Campus COVID-19 Briefing

    The video for this week’s Campus COVID-19 Briefing is available here. We will continue to schedule 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 our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
    • Provost Susan M. Collins discussed our grading policy for the spring and summer term and insights from fall course evaluations.
    • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed what Michigan Housing may look like in the fall and how Student Life is addressing large social gatherings off campus.
    • Dana Habers, chief department administrator in Radiology and a co-lead of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Therapeutics Task Force, provided an update on vaccination challenges stemming from limited supply.
    • Rich Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources, shared the results of our Staff Survey today, along with an update on the work of the Workplace Innovation and the Staff Experience committee.

    Each also answered several questions from the community.

    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.

    Sincerely,

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