The University of Arizona’s COVID-19 virtual university status update, formerly known as the reentry task force, met Monday, Jan. 25, for the fourth briefing of the spring semester. The task force discussed COVID-19 data on the state, county and local levels and continuation of vaccine distribution.
The UA will remain in Phase 1 of the reentry protocol, which permits only “essential” classes of 50 or less to meet in person.
The state of Arizona remains a hotspot for COVID-19 cases and transmission. The rate of transmission (Rt) value is 0.79 for the state, 0.84 for Pima County and 1.12 for the university zip code.
UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins reported that 40 isolation beds are currently occupied by students, leaving 93% of isolation beds still unoccupied.
Between Jan. 15 and Jan. 24, the university administered over 10,000 tests, which returned 206 positives (a positivity rate of 2%). Though this is below the threshold of 5%, task force Director Dr. Richard Carmona warned community members not to become complacent.
“It may have flattened out for a little while,” Carmona said, “but until that curve stays down for a long time, every single one of us needs to do everything we can — masking up, vax up — and do all the sanitation that the president has said. It’s absolutely essential, even though there appears to be a flattening of the curve a little bit, just recently.”
Carmona proceeded to point out that the Campus Area Response Team was deployed to three gatherings of 50-99 people.
“That is dangerous,” Carmona said. “Each one of those people are potential spreaders at a super-spreader event. We don’t know — 40% of people or more are asymptomatic. We cannot allow this to happen.”
Students who attend such large gatherings are referred to the Dean of Students Office and subject to disciplinary action.
The university is continuing to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to childcare workers, K-12 instructors and higher education staff and faculty. There are now two sites open for these individuals to receive the vaccine: a drive-up location on the campus mall and a walk-up location at the Ina E. Gittings Building.
The virtual university status update will resume next Monday morning at 9:30 a.m.
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