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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

May 21, Operational Update

May 21, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)

President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. This is our weekly operational status update for Thursday, May 21st. And I want to go over a couple of topics before I share the conversation with Dan Maxey, our chief of staff.

President Feinstein (00:13):
So, it's been a busy week at the state level. The Joint Budget Committee discussed on Tuesday, the reduction of higher education funding by 58%, approximately $493 million of our budget. The good news is the day before, Governor Polis, through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, provided $450 million of funding to higher education, thereby making the overall reduction in funding to higher education for next year at about 5.1%. What that means for UNC, it's about a $2.4 million reduction in our budget. And that's significant, particularly considering that we were expecting a 7% increase coming up. And the change is roughly about $8 million in total. So, we certainly have some work to do, but I am certainly happy with the governor's decision to give us $450 million.

President Feinstein (01:11):
And I also certainly understand the incredible challenges that the Joint Budget Committee has in basically addressing a $3 billion shortfall in the state. It was a very emotionally charged conversation by the JBC. And again, I appreciate their hard work and efforts in addressing the challenges with the pandemic in Colorado. And I think they made the right call in reducing our budget and also allowing for the back-filling of those resources from the CARES Act.

President Feinstein (01:40):
The other topic I want to talk about briefly is what occurred last Friday, and that we sent a note out to the campus community and students talking about CARE's relief funds. And as I'd mentioned earlier, we have about $3.8 million to distribute to students. And approximately $2.6 million of those funds are going directly to students. They don't need to apply. They just need to sign an affidavit that they've been impacted by the coronavirus.

President Feinstein (02:06):
And those checks are going to be distributed very shortly, within the next couple of days. And they're distributed based upon a student's expected family contribution. So, a student that has no expected family contribution, will be receiving a check for $625, up to a student that has an EFC over 10,000 will receive a check for $225. Now this is only for Title IV students, those students that have applied for financial aid through FAFSA, but we also have some incredibly generous donors.

President Feinstein (02:39):
And one in particular, who wants to remain anonymous, has given in funds to support our DACA students. So, all of our DACA students will also be receiving funding support in the same way that our title four students will, and that funding will be coming out shortly as well. There's about an additional $1.2 million of those CARE funds that will be distributed over the summer, fall and spring based upon an application process. So, students will apply for those funds, and they will be based upon specific circumstances and need, and we're setting up a committee to address that. So, with that information, I'm now going to hand over the conversation to Dan Maxey, our chief of staff, to moderate the other conversations. Dan.

Dan Maxey (03:23):
Thank you, President Feinstein. It's a beautiful morning here in Greeley. It's really been a beautiful week. I want to thank everyone who's joining us for our second summer weekly update as we continue our preparations for the fall semester. The cabinet met Monday and Wednesday this week to discuss issues related to our planning for fall, as well as our management of current issues related to the state's budget and summer operations. The financial task force met Tuesday this week, and the various components of the fall 2020 re-entry task force [inaudible 00:03:51]. And Mark Anderson and Katrina Rodriguez will give reports on their activity a little bit later. As our panel gives reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. We'll get started this morning with a report from Associate Vice President Blaine Nickeson on current conditions in Colorado and changes in government guidance and public health orders. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (04:11):
Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Andy. We're having positive trends within the state related to the number of folks that are hospitalized and the number of ventilators in use. This is because, despite the loosening of some of the stay at home orders, Coloradans are continuing to be diligent about social distancing, wearing a mask on going out, et cetera. Public health officials say we're going to need to maintain an average of 55% social distancing to keep the health system from being overwhelmed. That means compared with the old normal, you have a 55% reduction in your interactions with others. Obviously, for some folks like grocery store cashiers, police officers, nurses, that's not possible. So, it's on us to pick up the slack. Of the criteria that the federal government has given for states to start to reopen, Colorado's met four out of the five. Where we were running behind is in the amount of tests per capita that we're running. And I'll talk a little bit about that in a moment.

Blaine Nickeson (05:06):
The State's released some draft guidelines for how restaurants might be able to reopen for limited in-person service. Goal in releasing that draft was to allow proprietors in the industry to provide some feedback on it. And a decision and a timeline will come from the governor next week. Public health officials are concerned about the fall, the combination of the seasonal flu hitting like it always does with those hospitalizations, along with a possible second wave of COVID cases, could really overwhelm the healthcare system. Widespread adoption of the flu vaccine is going to be really important as we come to the fall. Also, I mentioned last week, a change in the data reporting. CDPHE has added a new hospital data point that shows the number of new daily admissions for COVID-19. And over the last week, it's continued to average lower. So, down to about 34 people per day, across the state.

Blaine Nickeson (05:56):
There's another data change that's important for folks to understand, and it made some media and things like that this week. To make the data more transparent related to deaths, the state has started reporting both those that died from COVID-19 and those that died from another factor, such as cardiac arrest, but they were also COVID-19 positive. COVID may have still played a role or been a contributing factor though. But the CDC requires states to report that more broad count, which is what Colorado had been sort of exclusively reporting before, now they're in the interest of transparency reporting both.

Blaine Nickeson (06:29):
UNC's community drive through testing site, in partnership with King Soopers, is starting its second week today. Again, it's in the parking lot west of Candelaria Hall. It does not require a doctor's note, but folks do have to preregister through krogerhealth.com. The website will screen based upon symptoms, but even if you don't have symptoms, if you're a critical frontline worker, such as a grocery store worker, a childcare provider, you're eligible to be tested, and there's no charge for you to do that testing.

Blaine Nickeson (06:58):
We have the capacity to do over 300 tests per day, and we really want to utilize that full capacity. Unfortunately, in the first week, we were well below it. The governor stated a desire to be doing 8,500 tests per day by the end of the month, which is pretty much where we are, but we're well short of that. We've only had two single days where we were more than 5,000 tests per day. And again, I mentioned earlier on, in the federal guidance about moving towards reopening, that that's the one checkpoint we're not hitting.

Blaine Nickeson (07:27):
For just a brief look at the latest data. The state's identified nearly 23,000 positive cases, but our week-to-week growth continues to slow down. It was about 11% compared to the prior two weeks that were 15% and 21% week-to-week growth. When we also look at Weld County specifically, same trend. So we had about 7% case growth over the last week compared to 12% and 17% in the prior two weeks. So, good news to be able to report there. And we just need to continue to do our part. And hopefully, as we have some things reopening, like restaurants with the summertime, we'll continue to have good news to report. So, that's all I have for this morning. Dan, I'll go ahead and turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (08:10):
Thank you, Blaine. I'm glad to start hearing some good news on a more regular basis. And hope that everyone will keep it up as we work toward improving the situation even further. Next we'll hear reports from the co-chairs of our fall 2020 re-entry task force, Provost Mark Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs Katrina Rodriguez. Katrina and Mark.

Mark Anderson (08:32):
Thank you, Dan. As Blaine has indicated, there's a lot of positive trends in the Colorado. He also reported that we've met, the state is meeting four out of the five federal standards for reopening the economy. For that reason, we have a high level of confidence that we will have a robust on-campus face-to-face instruction, on-campus student life in the fall. The academic affairs' sub-portion of the re-entry task force has met twice since the last Thursday morning update. And we are composed primarily of faculty and have representation from all of the different academic colleges. And the task force is really considering all possibilities and how we will have our instruction, the modality of instruction, with the confidence that we will have a robust on campus face-to-face experience.

Mark Anderson (09:31):
But we will be following the trends in the public health and assure that our campus is meeting all the public health standards that are in place at the time. In the academic affairs subgroup, we've broken into even more subgroups focused on the student experience, one focused on faculty experience and instruction, and then a third on the infrastructure. And all three groups are looking at the fall instruction from the perspective of those subgroups, by coming together to present a united recommendation with respect to how instruction will be occurring in the fall semester. And so I'll turn it over to Katrina for the student life portion of the re-entry.

Katrina Rodriguez (10:27):
Thank you, Mark. Yes. I agree with all of what Mark had to share in terms of our work together and looking both at instruction and student engagement. So, our task force for student engagements and student life will occur this afternoon. So, we'll have more to share next week. We've got four committees that we are working with, and one will be the residential campus, so housing and dining, student life and student engagement, and how we are able to have students live and be active on campus related to social distancing and safety, and those kinds of things. So, we're working on all manner of those aspects. We'll have a team that's going to look at the intersections between instruction and student life, so that it's really a systems approach. Ensuring that we are able to look at, as we make a change or shift in one area or another, that we're able to really make sure that the other systems that are touched by those also have a way of having a positive outcome as well.

Katrina Rodriguez (11:38):
So, we're being very thoughtful there. And then our last committee will be logistics and guidance. And so based on what promising practices are out there in the country, and what other institutions are doing, as well as federal state and local guidance that we're getting in terms of what we'll need to be doing. So, very excited about the work that we're doing. We have a really great group of about 25 members. And so I'm appreciative of those who are spending their time and really working on some pieces. So, excited to hear that conversation this afternoon. I know that teams have been meeting consistently for the past week to really put some things together. So, look forward to more information to share with you next week.

Dan Maxey (12:24):
Thank you for those updates. And this afternoon last week, President Feinstein and Mark and Katrina all participated in a virtual town hall with prospective students and their families. There's another one of those this afternoon. And I don't know that the whole group knows it, but we've been asked to do some more. So, for those of you who are prospective students and parents, we'll have more of those coming as the summer progresses. Want to thank everyone who has tuned in live, or to the recording. I'll turn the floor back over to President Feinstein to close this out.

President Feinstein (12:59):
Thanks, Dan. And thanks again everyone for being on the call today. Got a busy week, and I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your week. And as always, stay safe, be healthy. And we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.