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

    September 25, 2020

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    Now that we are a month into the semester, University of Michigan Chief Health Officer (and Michigan parent) Preeti Malani reports that cases have been increasing the last two weeks and shares updates on our campus and how we can prevent the spread of COVID-19. Her video is here, and I’m sharing additional details and information below.

    In response to suggestions from the community, our COVID-19 dashboard now includes positive U-M cases reported by off-campus sources. Though we’ve always tracked total cases in conjunction with the Washtenaw County Health Department, we want our dashboard to reflect campus community conditions as accurately as possible.

    The University Record has additional information about our recent dashboard improvements.

    Also, these numbers are adjusted after initial posting as we learn more about the onset of cases and as additional results are reported from outside labs. Our dashboard presents data from multiple U-M, county and state sources (the full explanation is here). We continue to work in close partnership with the health department to provide data and keep the community safe.

    I want to emphasize again the importance of students being tested at UHS, especially in light of the numbers of positive cases that we are seeing identified by off-campus testing.

    The benefits of having the test completed at UHS rather than an outside facility include the rapid turnaround time for results thanks to lab staff at Michigan Medicine, use of the most accurate test available (PCR), and that we can begin case investigation and contact tracing more quickly, diminishing spread of COVID-19. The health department shares positive and probable cases from outside tests involving Michigan students, however those extra steps introduce a delay. Information and videos by our campus experts on this topic are available here.

    Students isolated with a positive test or those instructed to quarantine due to an exposure are not necessarily required to do so on North Campus. Sometimes this can happen at a current residence or permanent home depending on the nature of those living arrangements. In addition, we have worked hard to improve the quality of U-M isolation and quarantine housing and have made significant progress.

    As part of our efforts to address your concerns and provide information more clearly, we also have changed our Campus Maize and Blueprint site to feature a section called Top Frequently Asked Questions on the site’s front page. These are questions we are hearing frequently, and we want to make it easier for everyone to access the information.

    Our Environment, Health and Safety department and the county health department are addressing about 25 recent positive cases arising in student off-campus congregate living residences. Student Life is offering information and support, as well.

    South Quad Pop-Up Testing

    Our University Health Service (UHS), in collaboration with campus partners, quickly addressed the cluster in South Quad that was identified and reported last week. Teams implemented our existing public health and safety measures that included quarantine, isolation, case investigation, disinfection and public notices.

    Additionally, they created a “pop-up” site to test all students residing on two specific floors of South Quad.  As of Monday, the 221 test results received all came back negative indicating that the infection had not spread beyond the initial groups of students.

    These additional students were tested out of an abundance of caution, as none of them were identified as close contacts and none were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

    We’ve posted more details online. This includes a Michigan Minds podcast with Lindsey Mortenson, acting UHS director, who further describes this testing effort. I join Dr. Mortenson in thanking the students who stepped up to be tested in this important health and safety effort collaboratively implemented by UHS, our School of Public Health, and U-M Housing.

    Additional Updates

    • The Office of the Vice President for Research has organized a committee to address inequities induced or exacerbated by COVID-19 across the research community. Led by Professors Tabbye Chavous and Huda Akil, the committee will partner with colleagues from across our three campuses to reduce these negative impacts on researchers’ scholarly progress, productivity and opportunity to thrive, and help support an equitable, diverse and robust research environment. Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham will share more information about this committee with the university community in the coming weeks.
    • The U-M Library has expanded its by-reservation study hours in the Shapiro Library and borrowing services and contactless pickup at multiple locations. More information is available in the University Record, and the Library has full details on its site.

    Autumn has begun and the days are starting to become cooler. Please make every effort to follow the rules around wearing a face covering, avoiding crowds, keeping the proper distance, and washing your hands more frequently as socializing moves indoors.  You can enjoy yourself, stay healthy, and protect others you care about by being smart about COVID-19 risk.

    During the semester, I am providing weekly COVID-19 updates to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You may also view 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