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

    May 21, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    Here are the main updates at-a-glance:

    • We’re examining all of the changes in the State of Michigan and CDC guidance on gathering sizes, distancing and face coverings. We’re also waiting for guidance from Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), which still has workplace health and safety measures in force.
    • When we have more information, we will reconsider our distancing policy, density guidelines in research labs, and our indoor and outdoor masking policy. We anticipate new guidance in the coming weeks, perhaps sooner.
    • An important detail of the CDC masking and distancing announcement is that while it says vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks, it also says state, local and workplace guidelines still should be followed. Monitoring local and regional public health conditions will always be a guiding factor for us at U-M.
    • Please note that the state’s Vacc to Normal thresholds do not affect or accelerate our plans for returning to more in-person work in the weeks and months ahead. Our previous guidance remains in place that units will determine when more in-person work is needed. I know that planning is underway campuswide.
    • Supplies are plentiful, and it’s free and easy to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Our Campus Maize and Blueprint vaccine page will continue to have information on how to get vaccinated.
    • More than 13,600 students have reported their vaccination information via Wolverine Access. Please continue to report your vaccine status. Fully vaccinated students will be granted an exemption from mandatory testing requirements for spring/summer terms and beyond.
    • Governor Whitmer’s announcement yesterday on gathering sizes is great news for Michigan Athletics, our student-athletes and fans. Based upon this latest order and what we now know, this guidance clears the path for Michigan Athletics events to return to full capacity beginning with fall competition. This includes Michigan Stadium. Future public health guidelines may require changes, but for now, we anticipate fans at all Wolverine sporting events this fall. Go Blue!

    Campus COVID-19 Update

    Officials continue to evaluate the U-M face covering policy to align with the latest public health and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) standards.

    Campus COVID-19 cases remain very low, with evidence of high-level vaccine efficacy an encouraging sign.

    Recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced new timelines for increases in capacity for indoor and outdoor gatherings and new guidelines for face coverings for vaccinated individuals. On June 1, indoor capacity limits for events will increase to 50 percent. As of July 1, the state will no longer limit capacity at indoor or outdoor gatherings.

    The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recently issued new guidance on face coverings and distancing.

    We’re examining all of the changes in the state and CDC guidance. We’re also waiting for guidance from Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), which still has workplace health and safety measures in force.

    An important detail of the CDC masking and distancing announcement is that while it says vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks, it also has provisions for exceptions “required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” Monitoring public health conditions locally and regionally will always be a guiding factor for us at U-M.

    When we have more information, we will reconsider our distancing policy, density guidelines in research labs, and our indoor and outdoor masking policy. We anticipate new guidance in the coming weeks, perhaps sooner.

    The continuing but slow increase in vaccination in our state is leading to more optimistic projections, and a faster return to normal life.

    Currently, we’re still requiring face coverings indoors with exceptions that include those in their on-campus residences, alone in their offices with the door closed, and those who are socially distanced while eating and drinking. We also continue to require them on U-M transportation and when outdoors in gatherings of 100 or more.

    Vaccination Update

    Vaccination is the best way we can protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 as we resume more in-person activities on our campus.

    As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported, the vaccines available in the United States are safe and effective at preventing infection, and early data show that they help to prevent spread by individuals with no symptoms.

    Supplies are plentiful, and it’s free and easy to get a vaccine.

    As a reminder, we are discontinuing the Blue Queue vaccine scheduling system beginning today. All U-M faculty, staff and students who signed up for a vaccine via Blue Queue have been invited to make an appointment. Our Campus Maize and Blueprint vaccine page will continue to have information on how to get a vaccine.

    More than 13,600 students have reported their vaccination information via Wolverine Access. Please continue to report your vaccine status. Fully vaccinated students will be granted an exemption from mandatory testing requirements for spring/summer terms.

    Campus COVID-19 Briefing and Michigan Medicine Town Halls

    The video for this week’s Campus COVID-19 Briefing is available here. This was our final regularly scheduled briefing of the spring. In the future, we’ll schedule briefings as needed, and will be sure to send out invitations in advance. We’ve very much appreciated the opportunity to answer your questions and share information during the briefings.  ]

    At today’s briefing:

    • Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani discussed campus health and safety plans and the importance of vaccination in helping us return to more in-person activities.
    • Provost Susan Collins discussed orientation and Welcome to Michigan programming, and provided updates from our schools, colleges, museums and galleries.
    • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed Student Life in-person activities coming in the fall.
    • Michael Kondziolka, vice president of programming for the University Musical Society, discussed UMS’ upcoming season, which will include in-person performances.

    Michigan Medicine leaders have scheduled virtual town halls once per month for the remainder of the calendar year.

    Additional Updates

    • Please note that the state’s Vacc to Normal thresholds do not affect or accelerate our plans for returning to more in-person work. Our previous guidance remains in place that units will determine when more in-person work is needed. I know that planning is underway campuswide.
    • Governor Whitmer’s announcement yesterday on gathering sizes is great news for Michigan Athletics, our student-athletes and fans. Based upon this latest order and what we now know, this guidance clears the path for Michigan Athletics events to return to full capacity beginning with the fall competition. This includes Michigan Stadium. Future changes to federal, state, local or campus public health guidelines may require changes, but for now, we anticipate fans at all Wolverine sporting events this fall. Go Blue!
    • As our MHealthy professionals note, investing in your well-being and taking care of yourself is very important. Taking time to manage your body, mind and mood gives you more energy, focus and helps with managing stress. Knowing what areas to focus on is a good step forward on your well-being journey. If you’re not sure where to start, MHealthy’s annual health questionnaire can help all U-M community members find programs and resources that fit their well-being needs.

    I will continue to provide weekly COVID-19 updates through May to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. After that, I’ll send updates as needed. 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