The University of Arizona’s virtual status update team met on Monday, Jan. 24, to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation on campus.
UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins began the briefing by thanking the UA community for doing their part to limit the impact of COVID-19.
“I want to begin by thanking our university ceremonies team for putting on a wonderful celebration last week to honor the superstar recipients of our inaugural outstanding faculty award,” Robbins said. “Our events team has become experts in putting on outdoor, [COVID-19]-minimizing ceremonies and events.”
Robbins also thanked the UA COVID-19 in-person testing teams and continued to encourage the UA community to utilize the free testing resources provided on campus.
Robbins emphasized the federal government program that offers four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household. He also announced that the UA has issued updated COVID-19 positive protocols based on CDC guidelines and input from the UA public health faculty advisers.
Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and distinguished professor at the UA, took the floor to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation. Carmona reminded UA students and faculty of COVID-19 testing resources as well as the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at the UA.
Carmona stressed that the UA is currently experiencing high transmission of COVID-19. The most recent day of testing, Jan. 20, had a total of 237 positive cases out of 2,057 tests and an 11.5% positivity rate. There have been a total of 1,776 positive cases out of 16,286, a 10.9% positivity rate.
As in previous status updates, Carmona encouraged the UA community to get vaccinated, test regularly and wear masks indoors, as well as contact the COVID-19 Ambassador Team Hotline with any questions.
Robbins thanked the UA community for working together to enable in-person classes.
“I’m incredibly grateful to everyone for continuing to be resilient and power through this,” Robbins said.
Carmona encouraged individuals to only use the emergency room and Urgent Care if absolutely necessary in order to make sure medical resources are distributed to those in critical health situations during a time when hospitals are overwhelmed.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Carmona and Robbins addressed the types of masks available at the UA.
“The N95 is really meant for frontline healthcare workers and people that are in very dangerous situations,” Robbins said.
Robbins recommended the KN95 and surgical masks for UA students, faculty and staff.
“The surgical masks are available in all classrooms and building entrances, and if anybody wants a KN95 they can go to their building managers and ask for one and/or their supervisors can go to the building managers and get them,” said Holly Jensen, vice president for communications at the UA.
Robbins was pleased with the compliance with masking requirements on campus and encouraged individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to get tested and avoid returning to campus until they were no longer sick.
As a closing remark, Robbins voiced his hope that COVID-19 cases will have decreased by the next briefing.
The next status update is scheduled for Feb. 7 at 9 a.m.
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