Rolling out plans for fall 2021

Feb. 26, 2021

To All Members of the Campus Community:

Over the past week, U-M COVID-19 student case counts have decreased noticeably. This is good news, and I thank the many students and members of our community who are following public health guidelines and supporting the safety of our community.

Campus testing has continued to increase with lower positivity rates during the same period.

While the Campus Response Metric of Washtenaw County of more than 70 new cases per million is still being met, the lower numbers of cases are improving against the metric.

We’re seeing improvement statewide, as well, with new cases and positivity rates among the lowest in the country.

We can all contribute to this positive trend. Please get tested regularly through U-M resources; choose to gather virtually, outdoors, or in small groups (10 or fewer when indoors); wear face coverings; and practice social distancing. Individuals who are symptomatic should get tested through University Health Services or Occupational Health Services.

Vaccination update

This week, Michigan Medicine opened a limited number of first- and second-dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Vaccine supplies remain low. As a reminder, with more vaccine supply shifting to health departments and retail pharmacies, we encourage you to register with your county health department and retail pharmacies in your community where possible.

We continue to update key vaccination numbers on our COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Though the state has shifted much of its strategy to using local health departments to facilitate vaccination, we are helping where we can. Michigan Medicine and IHA are honored to partner with the Washtenaw County Health Department to vaccinate local school employees.

Clinics Feb. 27 at Michigan Stadium and IHA locations aim to vaccinate approximately 1,200 elementary school educators. The health department is providing the vaccine and is working directly with local schools and districts to connect their staff to the appropriate partner for registration. This does not affect Michigan Medicine’s vaccine supply.

Campus COVID-19 briefing

We will continue to schedule these biweekly updates on Fridays, alternating with Michigan Medicine’s Friday Town Halls. At the Feb. 26 briefing:

  • 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 our efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
  • Provost Susan M. Collins shared an update on U-M’s financial situation and modifications to some of the spending restrictions that were put into place last spring.
  • Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon discussed how we are working with students to help them meet testing requirements and how we are helping students who are dealing with unexpected living expenses.
  • Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham discussed successes and lessons learned from our research reactivation and highlighted some of the amazing work of our researchers.

Each also answered several questions from the community.

I have a growing sense of optimism about the pandemic coming under increasing control and our ability to gradually return to a more traditionally functioning campus community in the months ahead. We must continue our vigilance to diminish spread of the virus as a growing fraction of our community becomes vaccinated and we look forward to better times later in the year.

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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