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September 3, Operational Update

September 3 Update (Watch on YouTube

Transcript: 

President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning, everybody. It's Thursday, September 3rd, and this is our weekly operational status update. And I want to thank all of you for joining us. We are nearly two weeks into our fall semester, and we have seen a limited number of COVID-19 cases on campus so far. And I want to thank everyone who is helping to limit the spread by distancing and wearing a mask. I appreciate that we are all doing our part to protect the health and safety of our fellow Bears. And as you know, we have a long weekend ahead of us and much as I did before the weekend leading up to the first day of classes, I'm asking all of you to be responsible over these next few days. Keep wearing your masks when you're around others. And we will be responding to reports of gatherings on and off campus that violate UNC policies and public health orders.

President Feinstein (00:54):
Also next week on Wednesday, September the 9th, I will give the annual state of the university address. The event, which will begin at 3:30 PM, will be live streamed on YouTube this year and I'll be joined on stage by our student body president and the chairs and the faculty senate, classified staff counsel and professional administrative counsel, who will also give reports about their priorities for the year ahead. And additional information is available on my website, which is unco.edu/president. And I really hope that you can join us and maybe ask some of your colleagues and friends to join as well. So before I move on to comments from Blaine, I want to share a short video with you that we rolled out yesterday. And again, [Maxi 00:01:38] is going to cue that up and hopefully everything will work. Dan.

President Feinstein (01:43):
The fall semester has officially begun at UNC and it is an exciting time. We know that this year will be unlike any other. Please remember that each of our actions on campus or off campus, will affect our entire university. Many students, faculty and staff are already making great choices that support the overall health and wellbeing of our community of Bears. And we need to keep it going. I need everyone to do their part. As a reminder, keep a distance of six feet from others when you're walking or choosing places to sit on campus. Wear your mask whenever you are indoors, in public spaces, and outdoors anytime you are around other people. This includes your loved ones, roommates, professors, classmates and others on campus. We want you to have a great semester and we know you do too. Mask up Bears and stay safe. We got this.

President Feinstein (02:54):
Thanks Dan. And now I'm going to turn the floor over to Associate Vice President for Administration, Blaine Nickeson, who's going to give us a weekly report on the current status of public health guidelines and conditions in Colorado. Blaine.

Blaine Nickeson (03:07):
Thank you, President Feinstein and good morning everyone. We're wrapping up our second week on campus and so far the impacts of COVID-19 have been manageable and we've been able to put the planning that we did all summer to work, to deal with the cases as they'd come up. The Coronavirus task force is meeting regularly. It's made up of five subcommittees, to remind you that those subcommittees that are working on a variety of issues include communications and outreach, testing, tracing and public health, student impacts, logistics and infrastructure and faculty impacts. We've got representation from across the campus, tackling various issues as they come up and planning for any curve balls that might come our way. We sent out our weekly newsletter yesterday evening with updates on our COVID status.

Blaine Nickeson (03:56):
These numbers change frequently, almost every hour as new test results come back, people complete a preventative quarantine, et cetera. For last week's reporting period, though, we had three students test positive for COVID-19. So that was among 66 tests conducted at the Student Health Center from the approximately 80 isolation and quarantine rooms we have set aside on the campus, in a residence hall system. Six were being utilized, across the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students, whether they be on campus or off campus residents. We had 23 people that were either in isolation due to a positive case or undergoing a quarantine because they had been in close contact with a positive case, or they were symptomatic and awaiting test results. The good news is that we've been doing a number of tests at the Student Health Center this week for folks that felt that they were symptomatic and all the tests that we've conducted this week, the results have come back negative so far.

Blaine Nickeson (04:54):
We continue to work closely with our local public health partners at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, as well as the State's Department of Public Health and Environment. We have a long standing positive relationship with Weld County Public Health that existed far before COVID. And we leverage those relationships to understand the nuances of COVID impacts on, honestly, a near daily basis. However, recognizing the limitations of directives that Weld County Public Health is able to offer, UNC has also established a direct connection with the CDPHE, for cases where we need variances granted or definitive guidance to be able to move forward. The state has proposed moving forward with a new tiering system for restrictions and stay at home orders. This is county specific. A five level system would replace the current statewide three tier, stay at home, safer at home, protect our neighbors model.

Blaine Nickeson (05:50):
The difference is in breaking that middle one, the safer at home, into three different levels. All of the new metrics are based upon clearly laid out data points based upon the current status of COVID in your county, including new case incidents among your population, positive test rates, hospitalization trends and other measures. This would allow counties to not only understand where they are currently placed, but also to know what areas to pay attention to as things start to change that could move them either up or down a level. Just like now, what level you are classified as impacts what activities can take place, whether it comes to in person school, work or play. I know President Feinstein and his peers at other institutions of higher ed have been weighing in on this draft proposal with both the Governor's Office and the Department of Higher Ed, as the different levels of safer at home would have a significant impact on the operational status of our campuses.

Blaine Nickeson (06:47):
To reiterate what was said, this upcoming long weekend is surely welcomed by many of us, myself included, as a chance to recharge, but it's not the time to let down your guard. COVID doesn't take a three day weekend. After the 4th of July this summer in Colorado, we absolutely saw an increase in case counts. It's incumbent upon everyone to be safe, keep your guard up and allow us to continue this in person fall experience. That's all I have for this morning and I'll turn it back over to you.

President Feinstein (07:19):
Thanks Blaine for your presentation. Thank you everybody for tuning in. As always, stay safe, be healthy Bears and we'll see you here again next Thursday at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.