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

    October 16, 2020

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    I want to thank everyone who has signed up for asymptomatic testing through our Community Sampling & Tracking Program and urge everyone on campus to participate. This is an important tool we use to monitor COVID-19, and we have capacity that is going unused.

    There has been a troubling increase in COVID-19 activity across the region (and around the state and nation) with new cases often attributed to social gatherings both indoors and outside. As noted below, we are also experiencing a significant increase in cases amongst those in our residence halls. We are entering a critical phase in our effort to control the pandemic in our university community.

    Our transition to saliva testing through our LynxDX partnership, now in its first full week, has doubled our asymptomatic testing capacity and made it easier to take a test. We have opened an additional CSTP testing location on North Campus at Pierpont Commons – in addition to the one we’ve had at Palmer Commons on Central Campus. This week, we also began rotating on-site testing at residence halls (schedule available here).

    After positive cases and close contacts were moved to isolation and quarantine related to last week’s cluster of positive cases in Mary Markley, our additional testing identified 12 cases on the third floor of the residence hall.

    Together with the Washtenaw County Health Department, our public health experts have recommended 14 days of enhanced social distancing for residents on the third floor of Markley and asked them not to attend in-person classes. We have used enhanced social distancing in certain residence hall responses to separate asymptomatic and healthy individuals from possible exposure. This includes monitoring your health, reducing contact with others and following public health guidance as noted in the previous link. At this time, our case investigation has found no evidence of additional clusters within the building. As a further precaution, University Health Service has provided mandatory pop-up testing for the remaining Markley residents who were not previously tested in the past 14 days.

    The additional testing is an example of how we are deploying testing in response to conditions on our campus. I encourage both students living on campus and off who think they may be infected to get tested for the virus through our University Health Service. It’s fast, convenient and easy, and the results come back more quickly, allowing us to more effectively intervene to prevent spread of the pandemic. Testing does not prevent infection, however, so it’s vitally important to remember to keep groups small, practice social distancing and wear your face coverings.

    Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing

    The video for this week’s Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing is available here. We are continuing to post videos of previous briefings and answers to some of the questions we weren’t able to get to here.

    At today’s briefing, Chief Health Officer Malani discussed the testing options we have on campus after the additions and expansion of the past few weeks, and Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones summarized updates to our Wolverine Culture of Care campaign.

    Our culture of care takes on additional importance with the return of football and Halloween on the horizon.

    Also at today’s briefing:

    • Dr. Malani gave an update on campus conditions.
    • Provost Susan M. Collins discussed outreach to our community on winter semester planning and our Democracy and Debate theme semester.
    • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon shared information about the possibility of offering safe dining-in options for students, health & wellness information, and civic engagement opportunities.
    Additionally, Dr. Malani previewed our planning efforts for the measures and recommendations we will be making for students leaving campus for Thanksgiving Break as in-person instruction ends for the semester.

    Additional Updates

    • We are preparing for the tents and canopies to come down starting October 28. As Provost Collins shared last week, we encourage all students to use our Study Spaces at U-M tool to find and reserve socially distanced individual study spaces, computer stations, a space to take a remote class, or just a dedicated quiet spot between classes.
    • In response to requests from our community, we are now updating our Dashboard with the number of cases in each residence hall twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.
    • We’ve updated our COVID-19 student scenarios PDFs with guidance for what students should do based on whether they live on-campus or off-campus. This is in addition to our instructor guide for COVID-19 in the classroom.

    During the semester, I am providing weekly COVID-19 updates to help keep everyone informed and 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.


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