The University of Arizona’s virtual status update team met on April 11 to discuss the COVID-19 public health situation at the UA and in Pima County. This was the 62nd briefing, and the last one scheduled for the semester.
During the briefing, President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced a new suicide prevention website through campus health, with resources available to both students and employees.
“Support and treatment help most people who have thoughts about suicide,” Robbins said. “And I ask all of you to look out for one another and help those around you. As we have highlighted in previous briefings, many people have faced new significant mental health challenges as a result of this devastating pandemic, and for many others, the pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges."
Mental health is an integral part of overall health and should be addressed just as any other health or wellness needs, and just with other health and wellness needs such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, there are preventative measures that can be implemented. So please pay attention to what’s going on around you and for those in your area." Robbins said.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and it’s important to acknowledge the impact on our mental and emotional well being. The university has professional mental health providers who can offer expertise, experience and guidance. If you are in need, I strongly encourage you to reach out. Students may contact Counseling and Psychological Services, employees can contact life and work connections.”
Robbins began the briefing by stressing that the UA is continuing to follow CDC guidelines in regard to COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
“Masks remain recommended, but not required for indoor spaces at most locations,” Robbins said. “Please remember that masking will continue to be required in locations where patients or clinical research subjects are seen, as well as spaces where personal protective equipment has always been required. Please continue to follow posted signage, I encourage you to wear a mask where one is recommended. Surgical masks continue to be available at no cost at building entrances and in classrooms. And I think the data would confirm that masking absolutely helps mitigate COVID-19.”
The UA continues to offer takeaway COVID-19 testing through the end of the semester. PCR testing for international travel is available by appointment at Campus Health. Robbins stated that the UA may readjust testing locations and procedures over the summer.
Robbins once again stressed the importance of vaccination and announced that second booster shots are available on campus for those who received the booster four or more months prior to those who are immunocompromised or at the age of 50 or over.
The second booster, along with the full set of COVID-19 vaccinations, is available to the UA community.
“I strongly encourage you to get that second booster,” Robbins said.
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Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and distinguished laureate professor at the UA then took the floor to discuss the public health situation at the UA.
“This is also the last scheduled briefing for this semester, however, if issues arise, the president has the discretion to add one on in the future,” Carmona said. “But this will be the last scheduled briefing for this semester.”
There were only three positive tests out of 261 tests [a positivity rate of 1.1%] for the latest day of testing as of the briefing, April 7. There have been 30 positive tests out of 2,284 tests over the latest 10 day testing period [a positivity rate of 1.3%].
“We’ve gotta be cautious,” Carmona noted. “It’s still out there, and this virus can continue to mutate.”
81.6% of Pima County has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination as of the time of the briefing. Carmona continued to stress the importance of getting vaccinated and testing regularly.
“We’ve got so much to be thankful for, our great staff, our students, our faculty have come together, created this unprecedented team, the incident command system,” Carmona said. “I mean, we’ve really managed to do almost the impossible, to stay open for two years, safely.”
Robbins noted that the UA would continue to conduct wastewater testing for COVID-19.
The briefing then went to a Q&A period. Robbins addressed recent controversies surrounding the University of Arizona Global Campus, particularly veterans benefits, brought up by a journalist in attendance. The Daily Wildcat will be covering this issue in a future article.
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