Dear RVU Family:
Bringing back students and employees to campus has been both a blessing and a challenge. We enjoy the comraderie of being able to interact with our colleagues and students in person; it’s wonderful to once again see people in the halls of RVU. The challenge arises as we, members of the CRT, are faced with creating new processes to ensure the on-going safety and well-being of our community. Our students and employees are also faced with learning new guidelines. These are uncharted times for all of us. We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to monitor CDC guidelines and best practices in an effort to preserve the well-being of members of our community as well as our loved ones who may not be vaccinated.
As communites are opening back up, the COVID-19 infection rate varies dependant in part on the vaccination level of the population. Some areas of the country are reinstating the mask mandate as a surge in cases is noted. In our local communities, we are seeing decreasing new COVID-19 cases in Colorado where 59% of the population received their first vaccination and 54% are fully vaccinated. The news isn’t as good for Utah, where 50% of the state has received at least one dose and 43% are fully vaccinated, and reported COVID cases are increasing. Washington County in particular is at an extremely high risk for the unvaccinated as the county is experiencing a surge (72 percent increase from the average two weeks ago) in reported cases, with at least 1 in 8 residents being infected.
The Delta variant is surging and accounts for more that 83% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. In a CNBC briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci suggested that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors (especially in crowded venues) as a precaution against the Delta variant. The video and summary of the briefing can be found here.
Dr. Kinder, Physician Director of the RVU Health Center and Co-Chair of the CRT, provided the following summary of the Delta Variant:
The Delta strain originally surfaced in India spreading rapidly to become the predominant strain in India, Great Britain, and now the United States. Delta is spreading 50% faster than Alpha, which spread 50% faster than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. A recent study (REACT-1) from the United Kingdom found that adults under the age of 50 and children were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with the Delta strain. Surveys in the United Kingdom where more than 90% of cases are due to the Delta strain note that that it is associated with some differences in symptoms. Headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are more common. Cough and loss of smell are less common than the original strain. The good news according to a Public Health England analysis (not yet peer reviewed) is that vaccines are effective. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalization from the Delta strain.
As members of a health sciences university, we hope that you will serve as an advocate in encouraging those in your circle of influence to be vaccinated.
We hope you have a safe and relaxing weekend.
The COVID-19 Response Team