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

    February 19, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    Here are the main updates at-a-glance:

    • COVID-19 cases among U-M students continue to rise, as COVID-19 activity nationwide decreases. U-M cases now represent 62 percent of the total in Washtenaw County.
    • It’s frequently taking more than two days to reach students who have tested positive. This seriously hinders our ability to prevent further spread. Please help our community by being responsive to our calls.
    • We are optimistic that fall will look and feel much more like a normal academic and residential term at U-M. Our planning is well underway.
    • Due to low vaccine supply, Michigan Medicine was unable to open new first-dose appointments this week. With more vaccine supply shifting to health departments and retail pharmacies, we encourage you to register with one of these additional options, if available.

    More details, links and additional information are provided below.

    Campus COVID-19 Update

    COVID-19 cases among U-M students continue to rise, as COVID-19 activity nationwide decreases. U-M cases now represent 62 percent of the total cases in Washtenaw County. We continue to meet the Campus Response Metric for Washtenaw County of more than 70 new cases per million.

    We need your help to reverse this trend. It’s frequently taking more than two days to reach students who have tested positive. This seriously hinders our ability to investigate cases, move students into isolation and quarantine, and prevent further spread.

    Please get tested regularly through U-M resources; choose to gather virtually, outdoors or in small groups (10 or fewer when indoors); wear face coverings; and practice social distancing. All evidence suggests that spread is occurring under social circumstances where public health guidance is not being followed. Individuals who are symptomatic should get tested through University Health Services or Occupational Health Services.

    Even young people can become seriously ill as a consequence of COVID-19 or with a secondary illness. In addition, every infection provides an opportunity for the virus to mutate into more transmissible or harmful variants. Please try your best to protect yourself and others.

    U-M has adopted the guidance released by the Washtenaw County Health Department in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding quarantine post COVID-19 vaccination.

    Fall Semester Planning Update

    We are optimistic that fall will look and feel much more like a normal academic and residential term at U-M. Our planning is well underway, and it includes monitoring the status of the pandemic and vaccination efforts nationwide. Although we aren’t quite ready to announce formal plans, I want to share our current thinking.

    Our goal is to offer a more normal semester, while still protecting health and safety. With the help of our public health experts, we’re looking at various scenarios based on what percentage of our faculty, staff and students are able to be vaccinated by that time.

    We are hopeful that, unlike present circumstances, COVID-19 vaccine supplies will outpace demand in the coming months. We may continue to need to mitigate risk by wearing masks and limiting the size of gatherings, but we should be able to allow more in-person instruction and residential and on-campus experiences for our students. We’ll share details as soon as we can.

    Vaccination Update

    Due to low vaccine supply, Michigan Medicine was unable to open new first-dose appointments this week. The State of Michigan has been shifting its allocation of vaccine away from health systems and to health departments and retail pharmacies. We encourage you to also register with one or more of these options for possible vaccination, if available. We will announce when supplies of vaccine increase at Michigan Medicine.

    We continue to update key vaccination numbers on our COVID-19 Data Dashboard,

    Michigan Medicine Town Halls and Campus COVID-19 Briefings

    Michigan Medicine’s next town hall will be today at 2 p.m. Information on joining is available here.

    Next Friday, we will schedule our usual biweekly 1 p.m. COVID-19 briefing with Provost Susan M. Collins, Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon, and Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani. We’ll send out the invitation next week, which will include a form to submit questions. Previous briefings are posted here.

    Additional Updates

    • The first of the two one-day well-being breaks we scheduled this semester is coming up next week, on Feb. 24. The second is March 23. These days are intended to be breaks similar to those during a regular fall or winter break. While these are not vacation days and the university will remain open, academic activity is intended to pause to enable students and instructors time to use as they find most appropriate. We strongly discourage units using this time to schedule required meetings for instructors, just as it would not be typical to do so during a fall or winter break.
    • The University Musical Society will present a special showing of the James Anthony Tyler play, “Some Old Black Man” for the U-M community. The play, which was initially streamed last month, demonstrated how live theater can be done during a pandemic. The special showing is free and runs Feb. 24-28. The play features Charles Robinson and Wendell Pierce, the latter of whom UMS hosted in a digital residency. Production required the quarantine of the entire crew in Ann Arbor, with rehearsals taking place under strict coronavirus safety protocols.
    • U-M laboratories and research spaces have been demonstrated to be safe and not a source of coronavirus transmission when face coverings and social distancing guidelines are followed. On Feb. 16, the Office of the Vice President for Research raised the operational capacity for labs and research spaces on all three campuses to 75 percent density, from 60 percent.
    • The U-M Museum of Natural History, the U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the U-M Museum of Art are open to Mcard holders only. All visitors must have their own valid Mcard for entry. Masks and ResponsiBLUE health screenings required. Please check with each institution about hours of operation and entry protocols.
    • We’ve updated the ResponsiBLUE app. It will soon include a quarantine and isolation indicator for students, an additional question in the daily symptom tracking questionnaire and a number of usability improvements based on feedback 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. Stay safe and be healthy.

    Sincerely,

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