Campus COVID-19 Update and important prevention guidance

To All Members of the Campus Community:

Campus COVID-19 case levels have returned to what we saw in the week before Thanksgiving, with many positive cases linked to holiday travel and gatherings. Many in our community are taking advantage of our COVID-19 testing resources before and after travel, and we appreciate your diligence.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines include recommendations to be tested before and after travel, and not traveling unless fully vaccinated. We shared a number of important prevention recommendations earlier today in the University Record.

U-M health leaders are also tracking high case levels in Washtenaw County and across the state, along with monitoring the spread of the omicron variant in the U.S. and now in the state of Michigan.

The surge in COVID-19 activity in the region and state has strained the health care system and affected patient care at Michigan Medicine. As Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge said Wednesday, the COVID-19 surge “is putting others at risk and keeping us from delivering lifesaving care.” There are fewer hospital beds available for non-COVID-19 patients, and fewer surgeries are being scheduled.

It’s very important that everyone get vaccinated, and when eligible, get their booster shot. Wear masks indoors and in crowds indoors and out, and get tested if you have symptoms. Michigan Medicine notes that “as of Dec. 8, the hospital had 87 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with the majority of patients unvaccinated. Six of 22 ICU patients with COVID-19 were vaccinated and all nine patients on ventilators were unvaccinated.” Michigan Medicine leaders shared additional information during today’s town hall, which will be posted later on YouTube.

Please, everyone, let’s all do our part to keep our communities healthy. Michigan Medicine and many local pharmacies are scheduling boosters and have available times. We’re encouraging all eligible individuals to get a booster wherever they can.

Here are some additional updates at a glance:

International travel: U-M health and international officials have shared important safety tips and additional information resources for community members. It’s important to understand the many different regulations, including testing and entry requirements, that affect international travel. It’s also crucial that all international travelers register their upcoming travel in the university’s travel registry. You can also review our Considerations for Planning International Travel During COVID-19 document.

Holiday gathering advisory: The Campus Health Response Committee has issued guidance regarding social gatherings as we approach the holidays. Recommendations include adhering to the U-M face covering policy; minimizing unmasked interactions at events, including eating and drinking unless it can be done while socially distanced; restricting event attendance to U-M community members only; and checking guests’ ResponsiBLUE.

I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You also may read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.


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