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

    October 23, 2020

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    I thank the students, faculty and staff who have signed up for and received COVID-19 tests through our Community Sampling & Tracking Program. Last week, we conducted nearly 5,800 on-campus tests.

    Following Tuesday’s announcement of a Stay in Place order for Ann Arbor campus undergraduates and new guidance on class formats, we have posted details on the Campus Maize and Blueprint site. These include answers to frequently asked questions from the university and county as well as links to the order itself and our student departure testing and protocol information.

    It’s important to note that most of our campus activities remain the same during this Stay in Place order. Research and patient care continue, graduate students continue in their studies, in-person classes continue where that format is essential, many facilities remain open, registration and voting are happening, intercollegiate athletics are continuing, and our Democracy and Debate Theme Semester is engaging our community around the democratic process. We already have most people working from home, and a large majority of courses already were being taught remotely.

    The risk of classroom transmission remains low. The increasing COVID-19 transmission we are seeing is not due to interactions in our classrooms and labs. Our new guidance for course formats makes it as simple as possible for undergraduate students to comply with the order, provides choices for students and instructors, and supports those students who may choose to leave Ann Arbor and finish their semester from home. Student Life sent more detailed information to undergraduates on departure testing and protocols Wednesday.

    Weekly Campus COVID-19 Briefing

    As a reminder, we moved this week’s briefing up to Tuesday to address the county order and class format guidance – so there will not be a briefing today. We will resume the Friday briefing schedule next week.

    The video for this past Tuesday’s Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing with Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck and campus leaders is available here. All prior briefings are at that same link, too.

    At Tuesday’s briefing:

    • Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck discussed the county’s order and collaboration with university health leaders.
    • U-M Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani discussed the campus conditions that led to the decisions.
    • Dr. Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed the campus response metrics and the university’s actions.
    • Provost Susan M. Collins discussed details about the new guidance on class formats, library services, research labs, undergraduate on-campus jobs, and winter semester surveys and planning.
    • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed Student Life outside the classroom during Stay in Place, choices for leaving campus, winter semester considerations, voting, and urged everyone to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and finish the semester strong.

    Additional updates

    • Provost Collins has shared information in response to faculty seeking access to their offices. This will help faculty whose teaching and research has been hindered by extended remote work.
    • The Washtenaw County Health Department Stay in Place order specifically exempted election related activities at polling places, including going out to register to vote and to vote on or prior to election day. Additionally, the order exempts working or volunteering, which could include working at a polling place, to the extent the work cannot be done remotely and you have the approval of the employer.
    • Tomorrow’s Michigan football game will be available on ABC, which students in the residence halls can stream for free using Philo Internet Television. Information is available herePlease stay safe, and Go Blue!
    • Leading epidemiologist and U-M faculty member Arnold Monto of our School of Public Health served as acting chair of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee’s Oct. 22 public meeting. The committee provides advice to the Food and Drug Administration and discussed the development, authorization and licensure of vaccines to prevent COVID-19. Also at the meeting, U-M epidemiologist Prof. Emily Toth Martin presented on behalf of the Infectious Disease Society of America, a medical association representing physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who specialize in infectious diseases. The University Record has additional details.

    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.

    Sincerely,

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