The University of Arizona’s virtual status update met on Monday, Feb. 7, to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation on campus and in Pima County.
“I want to be thanking everyone who has worked so incredibly hard over the past two years to keep the University of Arizona running in spite of the challenges that we face,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins as he began the status update. “I know it’s been hard on everyone and I can’t believe it’s been two years into this journey. Our faculty and staff are here because they believe in the mission of our university, and because of their efforts we have continued to not only survive but thrive during the last two years of this incredible pandemic.”
President Robbins then discussed the opening of the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum in downtown Tucson this past Thursday, along with the progress of the James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared camera, which President Robbins stated had turned on over 1 million miles from the Earth and is sending back images. Robbins also thanked the efforts of the Fred Fox School of Music, which put on the Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s 48th Annual President’s Concert over the weekend.
As a final piece of “good news," Robbins voiced his satisfaction with the appointment of Paula Balafas as the new chief of police.
Robbins then reemphasized the importance of COVID-19 testing at the UA, and encouraged those unvaccinated in the community to get vaccinated. Robbins discussed the importance of wearing of masks on the UA campus.
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.
“We’re not out of this pandemic yet,” Carmona said. “There’s a possibility that we could have another bump. We could have variants that will come in and confound us some more, maybe even make it more difficult for our vaccines to work, maybe even more transmissible and lethal, we don’t know. But that’s why we really have to continue to bear down and do everything we can to practice the mitigation strategies, and most importantly, the most important tool in our toolbox, get vaccinated and get boosted. That’s the fastest way to get us out of this pandemic.”
The most recent day of testing, Feb. 4, had a total of 47 positive cases out of 1,346 tests submitted, a positivity rate of 3.5%. There have been a total of 749 positive cases out of 12,430 tests during the past ten testing days, a positivity rate of 6%. This is a significant drop in cases compared to the numbers at the time of the last update when the daily positivity rate was 11.5%.
As of the update, 79.1% of Pima County’s population has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccination. Carmona stressed the importance of vaccinating children, stating that child vaccinations are currently lagging.
During the question and answer period, Carmona clarified that child vaccination rates in the state are somewhere around 20%.
As a closing remark, Robbins reemphasized his belief that the return to in-person classes was a good plan for the spring semester.
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