Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

New year, new challenges

Jan. 29, 2021

To All Members of the Campus Community:

Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and clusters of students testing positive, including for the more easily transmitted B.1.1.7 variant, reinforce the need for us to urge caution and emphasize safe and healthy behaviors to protect our community.

The Washtenaw County Health Department, in partnership with our campus public health professionals, issued Wednesday’s Stay in Place recommendation for undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled on the Ann Arbor campus to help contain the outbreak. The county notes that “more stringent, mandatory actions may be imposed if this outbreak continues to grow and additional variant clusters are identified.”

As we said in our message Wednesday, pressing the pause button on nonessential activities will help us protect each other from illness and preserve our ability to eventually resume more normal activities as we continue our vaccination efforts.

COVID-19 testing reminder

Credit: Photo by CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX (10544648b) An undated handout photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA (issued 31 January 2020) of an illustration created at the CDC revealing ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. US national public health institute releases illustrations revealing structure of novel coronavirus, Atlanta, USA - 31 Jan 2020

US national public health institute releases illustrations revealing structure of novel coronavirus, Jan. 31, 2020.

I encourage all students to obtain COVID-19 tests through campus resources because it allows us to immediately begin care and case investigation. It also is the only way we can identify the B.1.1.7 variant, as we can only further test specimens obtained through U-M for variant strains.

We have seen a large increase in testing by off-campus students, and I thank all who are participating in this important safety measure.

The University offers asymptomatic testing six days a week for those with no exposures, including undergraduates doing mandatory testing. The University Health Service (UHS) offers testing seven days a week for students with symptoms, close contacts and exposures. Appointments can be self-scheduled for both. Positive results from tests obtained through U-M will be tested for COVID-19 variants.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 off-campus should report their test results to the University, in order to help protect our community. A summary of testing options is posted here.

Vaccination update

Michigan Medicine received enough COVID-19 vaccine this week to continue vaccinating patients age 65 and older, while continuing to provide vaccines to U-M community members in the Phase 1A and 1B categories. COVID-19 vaccine supply remains very limited, and vaccines are available by invited appointment only at our community vaccination clinic sites.

Michigan Medicine continues to post answers to campus vaccination questions, including links to access the Blue Queue questionnaire, here. Please fill out the Blue Queue questionnaire even if you don’t want the vaccine. Information for patients, family members, and the broader community can be found on Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine page.

Campus COVID-19 briefing

We will continue to hold these biweekly on Fridays, alternating with Michigan Medicine’s Friday Town Halls. Jan. 29 highlights:

  • Chief Health Officer Preeti Malani gave an update on campus conditions and important reminders and recommendations for our community.
  • Rob Ernst, chair of the Campus Health Response Committee, discussed the impact of the B.1.1.7 variant and the importance of containing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Provost Susan M. Collins discussed libraries and study spaces, hiring, faculty travel, and campus tours by prospective students and their families.
  • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed first-year students struggling to meet new friends and Student Life services and facilities.
  • Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease physician and one of the co-leads of Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Therapeutics Task Force, discussed U-M’s vaccination efforts.
  • Adam Lauring, a physician specializing in infectious diseases, discussed details about the B.1.1.7 strain of the coronavirus.
    Each also answered several questions from the community.

Additional updates

The University of Michigan’s ResponsiBLUE app now includes new features that better connect users to on-campus COVID-19 testing and better supports the health and safety of the campus community during the pandemic.

Michigan Medicine has shared a blog post to address “What Happens After You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?” with information from Beth Moore, interim chair and professor of microbiology and immunology. The post covers what happens as soon as one minute after receiving the shot and up to six weeks later.

The Campus COVID-19 Call Center serves the campus community by connecting them to U-M resources and support during the pandemic. To reach the hotline, please call 734-936-7000. Call center hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. -8 p.m.

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


Mark S. Schlissel, MD, PhD

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