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July 23, 2021 | CRT-Update

July 23, 2021
Banner - COVID RESOURCES

July 23, 2021 | CRT Update

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.

Professionally yours,
The COVID-19 Response Team

The Dawn of a New Beginning

 It has been a long, arduous journey since we packed up our laptops and started to work remotely. We were thrust into the unknown and had to figure out how to carry out the demands of our job. But we did it and we did it well. And we did it without a reduction in our workforce which was so prevalent at other institutions during the pandemic.

 We have learned a lot over the past 15 months. We learned that we are resilient and can do whatever it takes to deliver an excellent curriculum and to serve our students, even if done in a virtual platform. We transitioned to working remotely without missing a beat. It has been a challenge both professionally and personally, but we have persevered - demonstrating that we truly epitomize and embrace our core values of innovation and excellence.

 As a community, we will take what we have learned to make RVU even stronger. And we will celebrate, as we have much to be proud of and look forward to. We will celebrate coming back to campus and be able to have face to face conversations and meetings. We will welcome our new students in person. This year also marks the 15-year anniversary of our university. And of course, as of tomorrow Dr. Forstein will officially take the reigns as our new President. An inauguration is being planned to commemorate and celebrate his presidency.

 As much of a relief it will be to move toward normal, it is important to remember that we are not completely out of the woods yet and we need to remain vigilant. The CRT will continue to meet to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of our community.

We want to thank you all for the part you played in keeping our community safe and in helping us advance to Phase Green. Due to everyone’s efforts, we didn’t have a single reported case of COVID transmitted on campus (we want to keep it that way). We appreciate your timely response to upload your proof of vaccination to get us to herd immunity.

 Please continue to reach out to any individual on the CRT or your supervisor with any questions you may have.

We are excited to begin our transition to our new normal. We hope you have a safe and relaxing 4th of July weekend and look forward to seeing smiling faces on campus soon.

 Stay safe and be well

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