The University of Arizona’s COVID-19 virtual university status update team met Monday, April 26 to discuss the end of the semester and the continued decline in vaccine demand.
University President Dr. Robert C. Robbins began the meeting by noting that next Wednesday, May 5, is the last day of classes for the spring semester. May 7 marks the beginning of finals week.
“I want to thank everyone – our students, our staff, our faculty – for getting us to this point,” Robbins said.
Virtual status updates will temporarily pause after next week’s conference. Robbins said that conferences will be held throughout the summer as necessary and will resume in the fall.
“The final scheduled briefing will be on Monday, May 3, but it won't be the final one,” Robbins said. “We'll come back in some form hopefully because we have a lot of fun being here and answering questions and sharing important information to the university community.”
The UA will remain in Phase 3 of reentry both this week and the next. Classes of 100 or fewer students designated as "in-person" or "flex in-person" may begin meeting for in-person instruction.
The university Point of Distribution has now administered a grand total of 194,729 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those vaccinated at the UA POD, 27.3% self-identify as Hispanic or Latinx.
Of those who received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, nearly 8% nationwide (5 million people) have missed their second dose according to a report from the New York Times. Tucson has not been an exception.
“We've continued to see a decline in people getting vaccinated at the POD, which matches the county-wide, state-wide trends,” Robbins said. “There are more sites, more opportunities to get vaccines and the large PODs have done their work and done them very well and I'm so appreciative of the incredible dedication and hard work that everyone at the University of Arizona has done.”
The UA POD will become a fully indoor operation beginning May 3. It will remain in its current place at the Ina Gittings building.
The university plans to reach out to rural and underserved communities to distribute vaccines as local and state PODs become decommissioned.
“To date, the University of Arizona mobile health clinic, which Dr. [Richard] Carmona has mentioned in previous briefings, has dispensed well over 10,000 doses of vaccine across the state,” Robbins said. “We want to build on this effort and members of our team have been collaborating with the Santa Cruz County health department and the Mexican Consulate of Nogales to hold a clinic this Wednesday, April 28.”
Robbins added that the mobile health clinic aims to vaccinate 150 truck drivers who transport produce across the country, as well as residents in part of the state that have so far been unable to make it to the PODs.
From April 15 to April 24, the UA administered 8,778 COVID-19 tests, which resulted in 42 positives – a positivity rate of 0.5%.
The virus’s rate of transmission in the university zip-code area Rt experienced a minor decrease to 1.01 from 1.04 the previous week. The Rt on the county level increased to 0.99 from 0.91 the previous week.
The Campus Area Response Team was deployed to five incidents of large gatherings last week, a decrease from eight incidents the previous week. One of these incidents was a gathering of 100 or more individuals.
The Daily Wildcat asked Robbins if there is a commencement speaker scheduled for the class of 2021 commencement ceremony.
“I don’t think there will be an overall speaker as of right now,” Robbins said. I think, because we’re going to be so compressed for time, the usual long speeches by multiple people is going to have to be condensed.”
Holly Jensen, vice president of communications for the UA, said the university is still in the process of planning this aspect of the commencement ceremony. She added that there will likely be unique speakers for each of the 16 commencement events.
The status update team will meet again next Monday, May 3.
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