University leaders address new Ann Arbor campus COVID-19 cases

January 25, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

To all members of the campus community:

A more contagious variant of COVID-19 called B.1.1.7 was recently identified in a cluster of U-M students. This weekend, we learned of additional cases that are positive for the B.1.1.7 variant, and this number may continue to rise. All of these cases have been investigated and the individuals and their contacts are in isolation or quarantine. In addition, we have tested a broad circle of students who are associated with cases or contacts. We’re also seeing additional clusters of the regular COVID-19 virus in the campus community and are monitoring and addressing those as well.

The university is working closely with state and local public health officials to carefully consider proactive and additional mitigation measures to address the emergence of this more contagious B.1.1.7 strain here on campus as we continue to learn more about this version of the virus. New information suggests that this strain might be more likely to cause severe illness.

It is imperative that everyone be extra careful, and wear face coverings, avoid in-person gatherings, practice social distancing and get tested using the programs we have in place. These measures are effective, but there is less margin for error with this more contagious version of COVID-19. This is a critical time for preventing spread of the virus – to protect one another’s health and preserve our ability to eventually resume more normal activities as we continue our efforts to vaccinate members of our community.

We continue to monitor and support the members of our community who have tested positive for the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, or who have been identified as a close contact.

The university is working to implement state recommendations regarding athletics, and we applaud the student-athletes, staff, and leadership of the department for their rigorous testing and public health protocols. Their testing regimen is helping us address and contain the variant at U-M, and the information we’re learning may be able to help our entire community. The variant strain was identified as a result of regular university testing followed by additional testing in U-M labs.

As we consider additional actions with our state and local partners, prevention remains our best defense:

  • Avoid in-person gatherings at this time, and instead connect with friends, colleagues and family via remote technologies.
  • Wear a mask when around anyone outside your immediate household.
  • Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet apart from others).
  • Get tested for COVID-19 weekly. Sign up for testing here. This is mandatory for undergraduates coming to campus and strongly recommended for anyone coming to campus.
  • Watch for symptoms, and isolate and seek medical advice immediately if symptoms develop.
  • Follow isolation or quarantine guidance if ill, exposed, or waiting on test results.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Use the ResponsiBLUE app daily.
  • Get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. Complete the Blue Queue survey regarding participation in COVID-19 vaccination at U-M.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, has been recently exposed, or who has recently traveled to a place where a new variant is circulating should be tested. Symptoms may include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, loss of taste, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

This is an evolving situation that university health officials are monitoring closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and Michigan Department of Human Health Services. We continue to check new and prior tests for the variant, and are likely to see more cases.

Please visit the Campus Blueprint for the latest information. Thank you for your continued efforts to keep our campus community safe.

Sincerely,

Mark. S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
President

Robert D. Ernst, M.D. 
Associate Vice President of Student Life for Health and Wellness
Executive Director of University Health Service

Preeti Malani, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Chief Health Officer

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