To All Members of the Campus Community:
Over the past week, there have been increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in our region throughout the state and in most parts of the country. This remains a concern for all of us, as the higher levels of virus activity are not limited to campus. Wherever we live and work, it’s important to follow public heath guidelines: wear your face coverings, keep gatherings small, wash your hands, and continue to stay in place if you’re an undergraduate living on or near our campus.
Since the Washtenaw County Health Department’s Stay in Place order last week, cases among 18- to 29-year-olds in the county have decreased slightly, while there has been a steady rise in the infection rate in the 30- to 49-year-old age group. We’re also using much less of our quarantine and isolation housing capacity, following our work to contain the Markley cluster.
We need everyone’s help to reduce the risk that comes with this weekend’s combination of a home football game against Michigan State and Halloween. The county Stay in Place order remains in effect until 7 a.m. Nov. 3, but as I noted, this is a crucial time for all. We all have to do our part to diminish spread of COVID-19.
Campus leaders from U-M and MSU sent a message to encourage students from both campuses to cheer on our teams from the safety of your own home, and not with a large group of people. That message is available here.
The Ann Arbor Campus Community Coalition (A2C3) has encouraged local establishments to provide a safe environment for everyone in our community. A2C3 includes representatives from more than 20 different sectors in our community, including U-M, Ann Arbor Public Schools, businesses, public service agencies and law enforcement. This week, A2C3 shared health and safety information in advance of the U-M vs. MSU football game and Halloween.
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 on the same page.
At today’s briefing:
- Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions.
- Provost Susan M. Collins discussed guidance on research expenditures, our new COVID-19 Faculty Council, winter term planning and final exams.
- Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed expectations of students to successfully complete the Stay in Place period and make it to Thanksgiving break, the top things students can do between now and the election on Tuesday, and the planning and decision-making process for Winter 2021 from the student life perspective.
- Dean Michael Barr of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy discussed voting and upcoming Democracy & Debate activities, reinforcing the message that we might not know the outcome of the election right away.
- Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones discussed Halloween and football engagement and health and safety measures. She also shared virtual events and online tips and resources for students to stay safe and stay connected.
- Nicole Banks, associate dean of students and interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, discussed the unit’s See Something, Say Something efforts.
- We have updated some of the data on our COVID-19 dashboard, as noted in the University Record. Updates include the addition of approximately 7,000 test results, spanning early March to mid-October. This reflects about 3,000 employees who received multiple tests but had only been reported once on the dashboard. We’ve also removed 47 positive cases, as we identified duplicate records among U-M and outside testing. Student numbers now reflect students who were previously counted as employees to give a more complete picture of the impact of COVID-19 on our students.
- Our planning for the winter term continues, as we’re analyzing data from our community surveys and consulting with many groups. We hope to announce plans late next week.
- To strengthen research and scholarship, the Offices of the Provost and Vice President for Research issued new guidance that will allow for the expansion of institutional spending on research. This guidance allows faculty to utilize institutional funding for research and scholarship purposes, and helps address inequities caused by COVID-19 for those most dependent on internal funding. More information is available from UMOR.
Election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, is nearly upon us. I’d like to once again encourage all members of our community to make your voices heard and weigh in on the direction of our nation by exercising that most precious right, the right to vote. If you have yet to mail in your absentee ballot, please bring it to the city clerk’s office either on Huron Street, or to the satellite office right here on campus in UMMA before Nov. 3.
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.