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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

March 27, Operational Updates

March 27, 2020 Update (View on Youtube) 

Voice and Speech Tips


President Feinstein (00:13):
(Music). Good morning, everybody. Friday, March 27th and this is our daily operation status report. I thought I would start with a little bit of Nirvana, Stay Away, wake us up a little bit. I'm eager to hear what's happening around campus from all of our coronavirus task forces. I'm going to ask Dan Maxey, our chief of staff to get this started. Dan?

Dan Maxey (00:38):
Great. Thank you, President Feinstein. We made it to Friday. Congratulations, everyone. It feels like we've been doing this for months. We'll go ahead and get started. The coronavirus task force meets today at 11:00 AM with the cabinet following today at 12:00. Various task force subcommittees are also meeting throughout the day today.

Dan Maxey (00:58):
As always, those of you who are giving reports, please be sure to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras when it's time for your report. We have a special guest at the end of today's update call to give us some tips on how to survive all of these online meetings and calls and online courses that we're all participating in on a daily basis now. First up today is Blaine Nickeson associate vice president for administration and chair of the coronavirus task force. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (01:32):
Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Andy. Any day that starts with Nirvana is a good day. We've completed the first full day of the stay-at-home order from the Governor. There are a lot of questions that folks have about that order, but public safety officials are begging folks please do not call 9-1-1 to ask those questions. Colorado has set up a new coronavirus information line that you can call dialing 2-1-1. Again, that's 2-1-1 to reach that information.

Blaine Nickeson (01:59):
I'll be brief today because of our special guest. We have 1,430 positive cases. That's up 344 cases or 32%. It's the highest growth day we've had, which is indicative of the ramped-up testing that we've been able to do in the state. 27 deaths, which is up eight. 184 hospitalized, which is up 37. Just over 10,000 folks that have been tested. That's up over 2,000 from the day before. Weld County's reporting 127 positive cases up from 106. That's up about 20%. Weld County still has four deaths.

Blaine Nickeson (02:40):
Want to just point it out for folks, there's 55 positive cases in Weld County under the age of 50. The virus does impact younger people too. That's why it's so critical for all of us to do our part to slow the spread and to flatten the curve. It's all I have for today, Dan.

Dan Maxey (02:58):
Thanks, Blake. I appreciate those updates. The reminder for everyone to keep in mind that this virus affects a wide swath of individuals of various ages. Next, I'm going to ask Provost Mark Anderson to give his report on impacts to the academic mission. Mark?

Mark Anderson (03:16):
Good morning. Thank you, Dan. We're just completing the first week of alternate delivery, so far so good. I've not heard any reports of any major issues. We are hearing some anecdotal things from students not related to the delivery of material, but just the need for developing community. I believe Katrina is on the call, but we are going to be collecting feedback from students, sharing out concerns that students are having with other students to help to build that community, but also sharing that back with our faculty so there'll be aware of the issues that students are facing both from an academic perspective, but also from the social perspective so we can be mindful of those challenges that students are feeling and address them within our course community. We'll be talking a little bit about that with the Deans' Council here just a little bit later this morning.

Mark Anderson (04:23):
That's all I have to report. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (04:27):
Great. Thank you, Mark. Next up is Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, Kirk Leichliter. Kirk?

Kirk Leichliter (04:34):
Good morning, everyone. Our focus today is getting the card access groups modified so that we can implement the lockdown after today. As I noted yesterday, if we miss someone or get it [inaudible 00:04:48] quite right, we just need to let the service center know and we'll get it fixed up. Other trades are normal, warehouse is normal, custodial, our new normal I should say. EHS has been working with housing staff to review PPE recommendations as they start to interact with occupants in the buildings.

Kirk Leichliter (05:13):
We're continuing our coordination of emergency ID cards with the Authorization to Travel letter that Marshall provided yesterday. We do hope that the use of that letter is very limited to truly essential staff. [Manned 00:05:31] we have ongoing work with Weld County Emergency Management, City of Greeley, Banner and UCHealth on some of their back-up plans and surge capacity. That's all I have today.

Dan Maxey (05:43):
Great. Thank you, Kirk. Next up is Marshall Parks, director of human resources with our updates on human resources-related impacts. Marshall?

Marshall Parks (05:53):
Thanks, Dan. Good morning all. I want to reiterate what Kirk said. We want very use of that letter. Absolutely as few people on campus as possible. Update today is yesterday we sent out a notification to all of our exempt staff and faculty who are on our insurance plan. They now have access to telemedicine visits free of charge through a company called LiveHealth Online, no copay, no deductibles applied. I think it's a wonderful gesture. This is an effort by our insurance provider Anthem to minimize the impact on the healthcare system at this important time. It'll be in place through June 14th. I've got a call in working with the state to see if they're contemplating something similar for our classified staff, but it is available right now for all of our exempt and faculty who are on our insurance plan.

Marshall Parks (06:43):
I'd like to encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity if they need it. It's a great opportunity. This morning, as a matter of fact, I had my first telemedicine physical therapy appointment. It was very successful. It worked very well. Details on how to access the providers, et cetera are in the email. That's all I have this morning, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (07:03):
That's great news, Marshall. Thanks for sharing that information. I'm glad that we're able to make that available. Our final report today comes from Dean of Students, Gardiner Tucker. Tuck, I'll turn it over to you.

Gardiner Tucker (07:14):
Good morning, everyone to a special edition of Student Impacts because today's impact is going to affect students, staff, and faculty. A couple of days ago on this call, I had a rough kind of gravelly voice. I was having trouble articulating and speaking. I turned to Anne Toewe and the College of Performing and Visual Arts and to ask for help. She referred me to a faculty member over there. The faculty member sent me advice that immediately helped me with my voice and to prepare for the calls physically.

Gardiner Tucker (07:46):
This advice is transferable to all of us because we're using our voices in such different ways like you mentioned, Dan. It'll help students in class, online classes, faculty and staff in all our meetings and our different classroom presentations because we're using our voice in very different ways. This faculty member agreed to help us today. The faculty member has their master's of fine arts and their bachelor's in musical theater. They were an actor in a national tour with Guys and Dolls, have worked as a dialect and voice coach. If you all are working on your dialects, now's your chance. Currently teaches our master's students in acting at UNC. Please welcome, Rebecca Rich. Rebecca?

Rebecca Rich (08:29):
Hi, everyone. Good to see you. Thanks, Tuck for inviting me. Tuck, if you would be so kind as to perhaps attach that document that I sent you.

Gardiner Tucker (08:39):
Will do.

Rebecca Rich (08:39):
That'd be great. I prepared a document for Tuck to share with everybody that will give you just some overall tips on healthy voice. I'll go over a few of them. Then I'll even invite you to join me in a very, very brief exercise if you feel inclined. Then if there's time, I would certainly be happy to answer a question or you could follow up with me later.

Rebecca Rich (09:03):
Just some basic things to keep note of are warming up and cooling down your voice, your spinal enlightenment, especially your head and neck and that it's not jutting forward when you go into your screen or when you're trying to talk on the phone, no cradling a phone obviously. Breath awareness, breath is the energy that really supplies the motivation for our voice. You need to make sure that there's enough breath to carry through to the end of a thought. It's always great if you just think about slowing down for a moment and think about the thought that you want to say and then the breath will naturally come with that.

Rebecca Rich (09:44):
Eating and drinking well is really, really important. I always have something standing by. I have water on this side and decaffeinated tea on this side. Taking frequent sits in between when you're speaking for any length of time as such, it just gives your voice the opportunity to take one brief pause to take a sip. It also provides that hydration that we so desperately need.

Rebecca Rich (10:12):
Then of course, getting enough sleep, which I know is really difficult. But most average humans, adults need somewhere between six and eight or 6.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep. Whatever you can do to help promote that turning off your devices at a reasonable time is helpful. Then just the technical setup, if you happen to have a headset it can be really useful. First of all, it helps with hearing. It helps you hear everybody else on the call and then it also makes it a little bit easier for you to not think that you have to shout through a lot of space because the mic is so much closer to your face usually.

Rebecca Rich (10:54):
Those are the basics. The document that Tuck is sharing with you has very detailed information about those steps. Something else I was just thinking of as we were looking here is the level of your screen. I think that it's helpful for you if you have it up a little bit. I have mine right now on a big box because I just have a little laptop. I've set up a box on my kitchen table. I don't have an office. I have a kitchen table with a big box on it and now my laptop's up there. The webcam is directly in front of me as opposed to having to look down like this, which then throws my head and neck alignment out of order.

Rebecca Rich (11:37):
Specifically in terms of warming up, we're sort of used to getting out of bed. Many of us maybe went to the gym before going to your first meeting or class or other exercise. It was great to hear that Marshall had a physical therapy appointment this morning. I bet he got his body moving. It'd be great if you could take a few minutes before you hop on your first call of the day or your first meeting just to get your body moving. If you don't have gym equipment in your home or in a socially distance place, then even just running in place for 10 minutes or jumping jacks, I dance in my living room. I also walk my dog. That's helpful. Things like that can be really useful.

Rebecca Rich (12:20):
Now you'll see that I'm going to take a sip because I feel like already that I'm getting dry. In this very, very stressful time in our lives, I think stress brings on more tension and tension really affects the voice. The more that you can do to recognize that tension is there and just to send yourself a message, a little inner message of take a breath.

Rebecca Rich (12:47):
I'm going to invite you all to take a breath with me now. Feel free to close your eyes or not. I'm the only one I think that probably you're seeing. Don't feel self-conscious if you can avoid that. Try to relax back into your chair or wherever it is that you're sitting and have some ease in your knees and your bellies. Think about having a Buddha belly. You don't have to hold it in your gut right now. Take in a nice deep breath and you could let it out on a voiced sigh. I'll give you an example of that, breathing in. Or you could take a breath and just let it out on an unvoiced sigh so we don't hear the vibration, which is breathing in. As you do so, you invite ease. Think about inviting ease into your body.

Rebecca Rich (13:41):
You might've just heard me cough or see me cough. Perhaps it was a bit of a clearing of the throat. We happen to do this excessive throat clearing all the time in our lives. Oftentimes it's because there's a little phlegm in our throat or something gets caught there. But a lot of the time, it's just dryness, dryness, or a habit that you've developed over time. The vocal folds that are in the middle of your voice box, your larynx are really, really tiny. They're really, really tender. They're like little flaps of skin that when you're making sound or speaking, they're coming together at a very, very high rate. When you are relaxed, they're just sort of open.

Rebecca Rich (14:26):
When you take a breath, you give them a break from being banged together. Each time that you clear your throat, it's like banging them together in a somewhat violent act. Also, coughing is that way too. Coughing tends to just be once. Clearing your throat tends to be excessive and many, many times. If you notice yourself clearing your throat a lot, you're going to want to lick your lips instead or take a sip of water or even just remind yourself to swallow. Those little tips if you can begin to retrain yourself in that way can be really useful.

Rebecca Rich (15:06):
In terms of warming up, on the document that Tuck's sharing with you, I just attached two short clips, they're like five minutes or less each of some YouTube videos that might be useful for you to see in terms of how do you warm-up. I could certainly work with you in another session. I'm happy to have Tuck set it up for a group Zoom or a group Teams where I can lead you through some vocal exercises too. I don't think I want to take your time with that right now. But there's so much information available to you on YouTube that it would be great if you were having any trouble with your voice to go ahead and avail yourself of the resources that are there. I just attached two down at the bottom to help you with that.

Rebecca Rich (15:52):
The physical awareness is huge, huge in your spine. We have this tendency to be hunched over like this or to reach forward towards the screen. Over a longer call it just gets worse. If you can begin to remind yourselves to have alignment, it's not stiffness, it's just ease. I like to think up and forward so you're going up and forward at the same time with your energy. The more that you can do that and the more reminders you put, sometimes I'll put a little reminder or I ask my students to put reminders on their desk or on their desktop or on their computer, "Breathe. Think up." That way you're not always like this.

Rebecca Rich (16:35):
I'm trying to think if there's anything else. If you'd like to do any sort of physical exercises, we have about two more minutes that I can do that with you. I will invite you at this point to stand if it's possible for you. You're welcome to turn off your cameras. I'm going to just rearrange my, take my headphones out because my headphones are not long enough. I'm just going to stand. I'm just going to show you some basic stretches. Many of you probably already know things like this, but now I want you to think about it in terms of your voice and your body.

Rebecca Rich (17:15):
Right now, my body is at ease. I'm thinking up and thinking forward. I have ease in my knees. I have ease in my belly and thinking about ease in my neck and shoulders. I'm going to likely let my right ear go to my right shoulder. I'm going to take a nice deep breath. Then I'm going to take my right arm and I'm just let it be weight on top of my left ear. Then with my left hand, I'm going to grab imaginary blades of grass out of the ground. You'll feel a stretch easily. You don't have to pull with this arm. Just feel that stretch right here in your neck. This whole area of the body is called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. It's this amazing muscle that has two tiers that from the back of the next goes down to your clavicle. Then also I think it's into your trapezius up here. It holds an intense amount of tension. Anything you can do to sort of release that tension is great.

Rebecca Rich (18:22):
My dog is now climbing on me. Then let the weight fall away, the hand that was weighted and then easefully think about lifting your head back up to center. Then easefully looking left and right. You'll feel a little bit of a stretch there. It shouldn't be anything, a huge pinch, but you can feel. It's something you're moving a muscle you haven't. Then make sure you realign your body, ease in your knees, feet about hip width apart. Now let's do the other side. Put your left ear to your left to shoulder. Allow your left hand to come up and be weight on your right year.

Rebecca Rich (19:01):
Imagine picking imaginary blades of grass out of the ground with your right fingers. Feel that stretch just to reach there. Take in a nice deep breath. Let it out on sigh or sound, sigh without sound or sound. Then let the weight fall away. Then you must think about lifting up as you realign back to center. Then just an easy look to the right and then to the left. You might want to roll your shoulder blades. I'm always a proponent of getting a little massage so you can do self massage into your neck and shoulders or not.

Rebecca Rich (19:43):
The tongue is one of the biggest muscles in the face. It has all of these, I think it's four muscle groups all together. It's an amazing instrument. There are some tongue exercises that one of the YouTube videos will show you. It's really important that you stretch out your tongue. I'm not going to go through that with you here because that will take up too much time but it's pretty easy to do. You can even just imagine that there's a pebble between your teeth and your gums that you try to move it around in your mouth many times different directions. Then there's also exterior tongue stretches outside of the mouth to do. It holds a lot of tension.

Rebecca Rich (20:29):
Then lastly in terms of your face, your jaw, this area here. My dog is now playing with a toy. This area, one of the most well-renowned voice practitioners is this woman Kristin Linklater. She wrote a book called Freeing the Natural Voice, which I've studied quite a bit. I've also taught from that that text. She calls the jaw a prison gate or an open door. You don't know that you have a lot of tension here, but it does. Just think about letting that go.

Rebecca Rich (21:04):
If you can employ short and small exercises to warm up your voices and your bodies and to do anything you can do to release tension before you start your day and especially on your calls, I think that you'll be in a better position to be on your calls, be present and just feel better in your voices. I'm going to go back to sitting. I'll ask if there are any questions in one second.

Gardiner Tucker (21:37):
I'm all relaxed now, Becca.

President Feinstein (21:40):
That was great.

Rebecca Rich (21:44):
Can you still hear me?

Dan Maxey (21:45):
Yes, we sure can.

President Feinstein (21:46):
Rebecca, I just want to say that was absolutely outstanding. This is Andy Feinstein. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for doing this. You're now officially a member of the coronavirus task force update.

Rebecca Rich (22:00):
Wow. Does this mean that I get tenure all of a sudden?

President Feinstein (22:06):
You can put this on your TV, yes.

Rebecca Rich (22:06):
Okay, great.

President Feinstein (22:06):
Thank you so much for doing this. It was just wonderful. It was something that was well needed.

Rebecca Rich (22:12):
Sure. My contact information, obviously, you have it on Teams, but it's also at the end of that document. If anybody wants to ask me more specific questions, I'm happy to answer. I could do little one-on-ones if you need to. Okay.

Gardiner Tucker (22:28):
Thank you so much, Becca. Much appreciated.

Katrina Rodriguez (22:29):
It was wonderful. I feel better already.

Rebecca Rich (22:32):
Well, good. Thanks, Tuck. I appreciate the invitation.

Gardiner Tucker (22:35):
Oh, you're welcome. Thanks for your skills, interest and help. Because so much strain is coming through this experience, not just from our voices, but the general stress. Thank you again. I much appreciate it. That concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (22:48):
Great, thank you, Tuck. Thank you, Becca for joining us. As much as I like to hear from all of you every day, it was nice to have a break from the normal here. We appreciate all of the tips and feedback that you shared with us this morning. I know that I've been having a little bit of sort of gravelly voice this week myself. I'm looking forward to implementing your tips as we move into the next week.

Dan Maxey (23:12):
I want to thank everyone who's tuned in live or to the recording later in the day. I'm going to ask President Feinstein to say some final words to close us out.

President Feinstein (23:22):
Thanks, Dan. That was a great presentation today. I appreciate everyone's involvement. I'm glad it's the end of the week, but we still have certainly a lot more work to do. As always, stay safe, be healthy and we'll see you here again tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.