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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 15, Operational Update

April 15, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:01):
Good morning everybody. Wednesday, April the 15th, and this is our daily operation status report. It's been a busy couple of days. I've been meeting with groups of faculty, staff and students yesterday. I have a couple of meetings today as well with some student athletes. This morning, I met with IM&T folks and talked about all the wonderful work that they're doing in supporting the university and helping us transition to online. I also had phone call conversations yesterday with Senator John Cooke and Representative Mary Young to talk about budgeting and funding in Colorado. There's some information that will be coming out regarding resources in the state at the end of this month in April.

President Feinstein (00:46):
Then, also the joint budget committee is meeting in the first week of May to reconvene and talk about the budget. The forecast is not looking very good. I've heard estimates that our tax revenue could be down by as much as $3 to $3.5 billion, and that will certainly have an impact on higher education as they determine how much appropriation funding public higher education institutions are going to receive next year. The CEOs of all the public higher education institutions also met yesterday with Senator Cory Gardner to talk about additional funding. We were very supportive and thankful for the CARES funding that's coming to our universities, but also thinking about the fourth round of funding and ways in which we can look into the future for support for higher education. It was nice to hear from him and our other CEOs about what's happening in politics and ideas for additional support for higher education.

President Feinstein (01:46):
A couple of other updates: Next, we have two important events that we'd like you to participate in. One is an all faculty meeting on Tuesday at four o'clock. You'll get some information about that hopefully sometime today. Then, on Wednesday of next week, from nine to 11 in the morning, we're going to hold a Board of Trustees meeting on the budget, but it's open to the public, and I strongly urge all of you watching this and your colleagues to participate in that forum. It will be presented via Zoom. There'll be enough room for everybody, and we'll go through a pretty thorough discussion of our current state of financial affairs at UNC and also ways to look at what the future may hold for us. That's what I have for right now. I'm now going to do a hand this over to Dan Maxey, the Chief of Staff, to moderate conversations with our other coronavirus task force leads. Dan?

Dan Maxey (02:45):
Thank you President Feinstein, and just in case anyone on the call is confused by our final walkup song this morning, it's not Just Another Manic Monday, it's Wednesday, so happy hump day, everyone. The cabinet and coronavirus task force, as well as most of our subcommittees, will meet today since we're now on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. As the panel gives reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. I'm actually surprised that we still have to kind of say that. I've noticed a lot of people still sort of talking over their mute buttons on Zoom calls and Team calls, but I'm going to turn things over first to the chair of our coronavirus task force, Associate Vice President for Administration Blaine Nickeson, for our caily issues report.

Blaine Nickeson (03:25):
Morning Dan. Good morning Andy. Some positive news about our ability to flatten the curve and reduce transmission of cases through staying at home. The state and the Army Corps of Engineers is scaling back the planned number of beds at The Ranch in Loveland, which I showed you a picture of yesterday. They had planned over a thousand hospital beds, but have reduced that for the time being to between 400 and 600 beds. Similar reductions are contemplated for the Colorado Convention Center. I hope that zero of those beds ever have to be used, because it would mean that our healthcare system's overwhelmed, but it's prudent to build that capacity now while we still have time as an insurance measure.

Blaine Nickeson (04:06):
For statewide data, there's just shy of 8000 confirmed positive cases, up only about three percent day over day. 1556 folks had been hospitalized. That's up three or four percent since yesterday. I've reported that the hospitalization number is cumulative. We don't know how many people are currently hospitalized, how many have died, et cetera. UC Health, which runs a number of hospitals including the one that is right across the street from Dan Maxey that he showed a picture of yesterday, reported yesterday they've discharged about 370 patients who have successfully battled COVID-19. A quote from UC Health that was reported in the Colorado Sun this morning: "Our numbers of hospitalized patients remain near record highs; however, we're beginning to see some positive trends. The rate of increase in new cases is slowed, and our number of hospitalized patients is growing more slowly, but it's essential that Coloradans continue to practice social distancing. The minute we let up, we will likely see cases spike again."

Blaine Nickeson (05:12):
Just shy of 40,000 tested, up only about 2 per cent since the day before. Colorado's reporting 329 deaths, up seven per cent since yesterday. Obviously, I wish that wasn't the statistic I was reporting. That had the highest day-over-day growth. Weld County is reporting 884 cases, up eight percent day over day, and there's 55 deaths in the county, up two. The impact of the outbreak of the JBS plant continues, as unfortunately a third death was reported from the plant yesterday. Those are my updates for this morning, and I'm happy to turn it back over to you, Dan.

Dan Maxey (05:47):
Thank you, Blaine. I appreciate those updates. Next, we'll turn it over to Dean of Students, Tuck Tucker, for our report on impacts of student life, who I understand may or may not have a llama with him this morning.

Gardiner Tucker (05:59):
No, but I still have my headphones. Apparently, there's some competition as a couple of days ago we talked about the goal program here for intellectual diversity, cognitive diversity. The director, Christina Ruffatti, has some competition with me here, so I'll just share my screen briefly. She's got a headset thing going here. I wonder if anyone can ever win this contest because those things can get souped up pretty well. First up, I wanted to discuss the César Chávez Cultural Center. As we've talked about on these calls, the in-person communities have been made virtual, and César Chávez has done a wonderful job of moving online. They were established in 1985, and Trish Escobar and Joél Almeida have put a lot of these experiences online for their students.

Gardiner Tucker (06:52):
They're meeting virtually with their lead students and staff members to strategize on a weekly basis. They meet virtually with the entire CCCC, four C's, employee family. They're maintaining personal meetings with all their student employees and with students in need. They have virtual study tables with all the four race-based centers on campus. They're partnering with Tutorial Services, so this week if you'd like help with math, chemistry, biology, or any of those, then come to the tutoring, the virtual tutoring, through César Chávez. They're doing wellness video sharing on media. They are doing a workshop in collaboration with Wells Fargo on financial wellbeing. They're putting on an Instagram party, and I'll show you that in a second. They have weekly Zoom community rooms for student engagement and discussion.

Gardiner Tucker (07:46):
A Netflix gathering is coming up on Friday, April 24th. Social hours twice per week. They're sending out a regular newsletter and planning an end-of-the-year celebration for graduating staff who are students. Then, let me show you their Instagram Live. Here's Frank Waln, the Saturday, April 18th, from seven to eight on Instagram Live, so please feel free to use your Instagram Live and join us for that concert. Their website is very good for the CCCC, so let me show you their website. Here's where you can go to get all the information about the latest events and what they're doing up through graduation, so please feel free to visit their site. Hold on a second. Congratulations to César Chávez for all their virtual connections with our students.

Gardiner Tucker (08:58):
The next update I'd like to do give you is that the Aims2UNC program is working virtually now too through this process. I have a quick website to show you for them just so you know that they are doing something similar to us. Here's their list of frequently asked questions. It talks about for Aims2UNC students, "Has anything changed because of COVID? Is housing available in the fall? Are services still available?" so it goes through all of the processes that we've created in our new program. We're very excited. There are a lot of students interested in joining us next year. Finally, my final word is that the caricatures are continuing. We showed those yesterday, and they will be coming up on Fridays, so sign up and get your caricature. That concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (09:52):
Great. Thank you, Tuck. I know that you've been in the habit of sharing some UNC pet photos lately, and I wanted to show everyone that my cat, Dexter, is about as much over my being at home all day every day right now as I am over being at home all day every day right now. I managed to have one of my new UNC sweatshirts on when I took this, but I think that the cats are ready for me to go back to work.

Gardiner Tucker (10:27):
The cats need personal space.

Dan Maxey (10:31):
I keep waking them up from their naps. Thank you for those updates, Tuck. I appreciate all of the work that cultural centers and others are doing to engage with our students through this time. Next, I'm going to turn things over to Provost Mark Anderson for his daily report on impacts to the academic mission. Mark?

Mark Anderson (10:49):
Thank you, Dan. Just a couple of things this morning. The College of Performing and Visual Arts, the School of Art and Design, is hosting today Annual Student Art Exhibition and a reception. It starts at five o'clock this afternoon, and I am posting into the chat a Zoom link for those who want to participate. (2020 Student Art Exhibition) Our students and faculty really are fabulous in the School of Art and Design, and the work that they do is really just unbelievable. This is one of my favorite events, and I'll definitely be checking in on what the students are doing and really looking forward to seeing a lot of the work both virtually and ultimately in person at the gallery in the Campus Commons. Please be aware of that.

Mark Anderson (11:51):
I've spent a lot of time in these meetings talking about enrollment, enrollment for the summer and enrollment for the fall, and really paying attention to where our enrollment numbers are. I'd like to highlight the work that our Admissions and recruitment folks are doing in this new environment that we're in. They're effectively doing everything virtually, and you can go to unco.edu/visit. The website really has a lot of links for virtual activities that they're doing, and I was looking through the virtual campus tour this morning, and it's very well done. I'd like to congratulate them for putting that together in relatively short order. They're having a Virtual Discovery UNC event for prospective and admitted students coming up today, next week and the following week.

Mark Anderson (12:46):
They're doing some academic webinars where prospective students who've indicated an interest in a particular discipline can meet up with faculty from that discipline to have conversations about a curriculum, about job opportunities, about career. That's really great. They're having a special Choose UNC event online on the 17th, this coming Friday, for students from out of state, particularly focusing on WUE students. They also are available for personal consults for students and have been reaching out. I would just like to say how much I appreciate all that the Admissions folks have been doing to really reach out to our students, to make them feel welcome into our community, and to really help reassure them about coming to UNC in the fall in this really uncertain time.

Mark Anderson (13:44):
If you think about it, if you're a high school senior, your world has been turned upside down. Not only has your senior year with things like graduation and prom being canceled, but the excitement of the transition into college has really also been upturned because of the uncertainty of how we'll be operating and how every university will be operating in the fall. Our Admissions folks have been doing a great job at reaching out to students to help them be reassured about what they will see in the community that they'll be joining when they come to UNC in the fall. Thanks to the Admissions and recruiting folks. Just a quick reminder about the Student Art Exhibition and Reception that begins this evening at five o'clock. Again, I put the Zoom link into the chat. That's all I have this morning, Dan.

Dan Maxey (14:36):
Great. Thank you, Mark. I just opened up the campus tour to take a look at that myself too, and a very eager virtual tour guide chat jumped in to start me on my way, so I'm going continue that a little bit later. We have no reports on Facilities impacts or Human Resources this morning, so I will turn it back over to Andy.

President Feinstein (15:01):
Thanks Dan. On a normal year, this actually would be tax day, April 15th, but we've had a little reprieve from that. I don't think we have to pay taxes now until sometime in July, mid July ... That's good news. I hope that all of you stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care everybody.