COVID-19 response enters new phase
Given the federal government’s revised approach to the COVID-19 public health emergency, as of May 12, the comprehensive health and safety response that U-M and Michigan Medicine implemented during the first months of the pandemic will transition to a new phase.
Rob Ernst, chief health officer, executive director of UHS, and associate vice president for health and wellness in Student Life, noted the updates reflect several months of stable infection rates, and effective monitoring and mitigation measures.
“We have moved far beyond the first year of the pandemic with the deployment of effective vaccines, better medications to treat the virus, and a range of tools to monitor conditions beyond individual case counts and asymptomatic testing,” Ernst said.
Health, drug, PTO benefits affected
Beginning later this month, the following measures will apply to faculty, staff and learners across all U-M and Michigan Medicine campuses:
- Costs for COVID-19 medical services, such as testing and treatment, will revert to normal pre-pandemic rates and requirements, effective May 12. This means members covered by U-M health plans will pay regular coinsurance or copays for these services, including charges for using out-of-network providers.
- Also effective May 12, over-the-counter rapid antigen COVID-19 tests will no longer be covered by U-M’s prescription drug plan. Members have through May 2024 to submit reimbursement claims to Magellan Rx for eligible, previously purchased test kits.
- COVID-19 treatment drugs Paxlovid and its generics, nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, will continue to be covered by the U-M prescription drug plan, with no member cost-share as long as the U.S. government pays for these products.
- COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be covered at no cost to members. U-M health plans cover all vaccinations at 100% as preventive services.
- As of May 13, the emergency COVID-19 paid-time-off program for faculty and staff, as well as the additional 120-hour special-use PTO bank at Michigan Medicine, will be discontinued. Employees will use regular PTO programs as needed.
- The university’s Community Sampling and Tracking Program in Ann Arbor will close after May 12. Sites at Pierpont Commons and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business’ Blau Hall will distribute free OTC rapid antigen tests and face coverings while supplies last. The Occupational Health Services COVID-19 testing site will close after May 10.
“CSTP provided critical data for our campus and peace of mind for many individuals,” Ernst said. “At its peak, CSTP was handling 17,000 tests per week. But as demand has significantly decreased and as wastewater testing and other monitoring methods have improved, we have reached a point where we can safely close down CSTP.”
Vaccination policy reminders
The COVID-19 vaccines are our best option for protecting our community, loved ones and patients from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccination policy was recently revised to reflect the new guidance from the CDC related to the bivalent vaccine. We will continue to abide by our guidelines.
We require all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or have an approved exemption. Starting May 15, all new hires will be required to have the bivalent vaccine or an approved exemption to start working at Michigan Medicine. Proof of vaccination should be uploaded to VaxViewer prior to their start date. At this time, all current faculty, staff and learners who are currently compliant with the policy will stay compliant.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, Occupational Health Services requires you to share this information with the institution and recommends the following protocols for Michigan Medicine employees: COVID-19 work restrictions 5-1-23
U-M Health Response
U-M Community Sampling and Tracking Program