University of Michigan publishes guidelines for responses, strategies in case of COVID-19 outbreak

ANN ARBOR, MI — The University of Michigan has clarified some factors used when considering responses and strategies related to campus operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

a group of people playing baseball in a park: Students walk through the Diag on the University of Michigan campus on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

© Melanie Maxwell | [email protected]/ANN ARBOR NEWS/
Students walk through the Diag on the University of Michigan campus on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Campus Health Response Committee monitors several metrics and considers mitigation measures based on those factors, according to a university release. The metrics focus on three areas — disease spread, public health capacity and health care capacity — and use specific information to prompt consideration of actions, the release states.


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There are several situations that might change the university’s campus plans, including:

Five days of sustained test positivity over 20%

More than 70 new cases per million; sustained 10% positivity

Three consecutive days of more than 10% case increase

80% projected capacity for isolation and quarantine housing within 14 days

All metrics are evaluated in partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department, university officials said.

When those situations are identified, UM leaders and public health experts would evaluate the use of enhanced mitigation strategies, which could include restricting in-person activities, a pause of in-person classes and switching to remote classes for the remainder of the semester, the release states.

One potential strategy is closing residence halls and sending students home, according to the release, but care would need to be taken to minimize the risk of infection to hometown communities.

“Our COVID-19 response metrics detail the range of data around viral spread, public health factors, and health care capacity we are using in our decision-making,” President Mark Schlissel said. “I commend the faculty and staff of the Campus Health Response Committee who worked to develop the metrics as part of their work to support the health and safety of our community during this pandemic.

“We understand that the university community will have questions and feedback about these plans, and we look forward to hearing them.”

According to UM’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 36 positive cases since Sept. 27. However, from Sept. 20-26, there were 242 positive cases, with 179 of those cases being tested outside of UM.

There have been 508 cases since the end of August, according to dashboard numbers.

The university updated its dashboard recently to reflect the number of tests administered within the university, which take place at University Health Services or Occupational Health Services, and those that are done outside of UM.

Schlissel and Provost Susan Collins will host their first weekly video COVID briefing at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, to provide updates and information about campus conditions and a discussion about the metrics and mitigation strategies.

The briefings are being recorded for people who aren’t able to watch them live, and will be posted under the “Messages” section of the Campus Maize & Blueprint website.


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