The University of Arizona’s virtual status update team met on Monday, Feb. 21 to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation on campus and in Pima county.
“Good morning everyone, thank you for joining us today,” President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said. “Since our previous briefing on Feb. 7, we’ve seen a significant decline in the daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Arizona, and indeed nationwide.”
Robbins noted the decrease in hospitalizations and the increasing availability of ICU beds, “I’m cautiously optimistic for what we will see in the weeks and months to come.”
Robbins encouraged continued diligence prevention of COVID-19 spread on campus, by continuing to wear face coverings, get vaccinated for COVID-19, and utilizing campus testing resources.
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.
“If you look at the United States, we’re approaching 79 million cases, and also approaching 1 million deaths,” Carmona said.
The most recent day of testing, Feb. 18, had a total of 16 positive cases out of 937 tests submitted, a positivity rate of 1.7%. There have been 205 positive cases out of 8,125 tests during the ten most recent testing days, a positivity rate of 2.5%.
“So we look out our testing results, you’ll notice a remarkable drop in positivity, you know we were way up before, and now at 1.7, 2.5, and if you look at our total testing window, with well over 100,000 cases, at 4.3, still it’s a little high,” Carmona said. “But again, if you look at the trends over the last meetings we’ve had here, that we look at every day, these numbers are decreasing.”
Carmona once again stressed the importance of vaccination and reiterated his concerns about the level of vaccine hesitancy in the U.S.
As of the update, 79.9% of Pima County’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
After Carmona’s presentation, Robbins expressed his hope that the university will be able to relax COVID-19 restrictions soon.
President Robbins and Carmona continued to encourage vaccination in order to prevent further mutation of COVID-19.
During the Q&A period at the end of the briefing, Robbins encouraged anyone participating in spring break travel or gatherings to get tested prior to the break, and also encouraged students to remain masked and physically distant when possible, “I’ll be shocked if we don’t see a bump in cases after spring break,” President Robbins said.
Carmona and the university Vice President for Communications briefly encouraged the media to talk to the UA about what they can do better about making COVID-19 information more accessible.
There will not be a briefing on March 7, as it is the first day of spring break, the next briefing is scheduled to take place on March 14.
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