Further responses and strategies

Oct. 2, 2020

To All Members of the Campus Community:

I thank everyone who viewed, or submitted questions for, our first Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing to share updates about campus conditions with the University of Michigan community.

At this week’s briefing:

  • Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani shared an update on campus conditions.
  • Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the university budget and winter term planning.
  • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed safety measures for Student Life employees, our Rec Sports reopening, student safety, and student engagement.
  • Associate Professor of Epidemiology Emily Martin discussed the campus health response metrics we announced Wednesday. Our response metrics focus on three areas: disease spread, public health capacity, and health care capacity. We’ve also posted information describing examples of the range of mitigation tools and measures that would be considered or implemented when the metrics indicate.
  • I spoke about the updates to our COVID-19 dashboard.

Response metrics and mitigation tools are among the questions we have been getting most, and we wanted to make them the focus of our first weekly briefing. These include what data we are using to track our level of success in controlling the pandemic, and what our options are if these metrics head in the wrong direction. More information is available from Michigan News, on the Campus Maize and Blueprint site and in an animation produced by U-M Social. I commend Prof. Martin and the faculty and staff of the Campus Health Response Committee who worked to develop the metrics as part of their work to support the health and safety of our community during this pandemic.

The recording is posted below and on our Campus Maize and Blueprint site. We’ll be providing the briefing every Friday at 1 p.m.

Increasing positive cases

A large portion of the positive cases identified recently are among students living in off-campus congregate residences. Our Environment, Health and Safety Department is working in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) to manage the cases and provide contact tracing.

It is imperative that all students cooperate fully with the case investigation process to help protect the community. A lack of cooperation is a potential violation of our Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This week, we met again with representatives of the off-campus houses to emphasize the importance of limiting gathering sizes, social distancing, and cooperating with case investigators and contact tracers. This meeting included representatives from the WCHD, our Dean of Students office, Fraternity and Sorority Life, EHS, the University Health Service, and the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. Working together is essential to our ability to contain and prevent further spread of COVID-19.

On campus, we initiated targeted pop-up testing (a testing site in or near the affected community) for floors in our Mosher Jordan and Alice Lloyd residence halls in response to new clusters, which identified two additional cases out of 201 tests. This action follows our work to continually track and map cases in residence halls as part of our case investigation and contact tracing protocols. Pop-up testing is done in addition to isolation of positive cases and quarantine of close contacts. It’s another important tool we use to prevent spread of COVID-19.

We encourage all students to register for our Community Sampling Tracking Program. You can get a free COVID-19 test and at the same time help make our community safer. We are ramping up our testing capacity and developing new plans for how to target greater levels of testing to groups with the greatest risk of infection.

Additional Updates

  • The Campus Health Response Committee has shared a classroom guide chart for instructors that details what happens when a student is diagnosed with COVID-19 or identified as a close contact. We’ve also updated our COVID-19 in the classroom FAQs.
  • Student Life has opened a Quarantine Coordination Center to assist students who are living in our Northwood Housing during isolation and quarantine. I visited the facilities this week and thank Student Life staff for the improvements they have made.
  • We have launched a COVID-19 hotline to connect the U-M community to resources and support during the pandemic. The hotline provides a triage structure that allows community members to reach the appropriate unit based on their COVID-19-related needs and follows the recommendation of the Campus Health Response Committee. The phone number is (734) 936-7000. The university’s COVID Concerns Reporting Line, (734) 647-3000, and voluntary address and phone registry for students living off campus will remain important components of our community health and safety efforts. The COVID-19 Concerns Reporting Line allows community-based public health concerns to be addressed via a system that has been designed to reduce the need for law enforcement as a first response.
  • University of Michigan schools and colleges are canceling Winter 2021 study abroad programs for undergraduate students, due to ongoing travel warnings and restrictions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
  • At the recommendation of the faculty and staff on the International Travel Oversight Committee, we have updated our international travel guidelines for faculty, students and staff. Currently, 17 countries are listed as U-M Travel Warning destinations, and all other countries are under a U-M Travel Restriction until further notice (these apply to students and faculty and staff leading students). Global Michigan has additional details about each designation. These guidelines will serve as our framework for cautiously resuming necessary travel. As a reminder, for all other faculty and staff, all non-essential expenditures, including domestic and international travel, remain suspended until further notice.

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.

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