COVID-19: Most Recent Campus Relevant Information
Mar 15, 2020 5:30 PM
There are a variety of resources available in staying up to date on coronavirus policy, best practices and news. Please refer to the Central Research Operations Guidance for Research Planning and Continuity page of the AVPR site for the most detailed guidance relevant to health sciences research.
Additionally, please check Pulse for more internal information.
Guidance for Research Planning and Continuity
The Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) remains open and fully operational as we closely monitor the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and continuance of research operation plans are in place. Please refer to the VPR website for updates.
The VPR office is also encouraging research laboratories to develop and/or review established local continuance plans. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, or other infectious agents in the future, it is possible that a significant number of laboratory personnel will be absent. We recommend that each facility/laboratory develop a written continuity plan.
Examples of elements to consider include:
Identify the minimum essential personnel and ensure they know what to do in the event of suspended operations.
- Encourage employees to telecommute, especially job duties that do not require them to be on campus. Note that telecommuting is not appropriate for all jobs. All employees who telecommute are required to follow the University’s Telecommuting Policy for Staff Employees (Policy 5-140) and Telecommuting Guides (Guideline 5-140) and complete the University of Utah Telecommuting Form
- Review important operational questions, such as: Are there sufficient back-up personnel if these personnel become unavailable? How will employees be trained to ensure their safety while they are at work?
Create a communication plan. All emergency contact information should be shared between personnel and departmental leadership (e.g., cell phone numbers).
Identify critical processes that will need to be maintained if the campus is shut down and review samples/facilities that are at risk of harm in the laboratory or facility. For example, do you have live animals that will need feeding? Do you have equipment that cannot be shut down and will need regular maintenance? Are all critical equipment on emergency power and are all refrigerator/freezers connected to alarms with remote monitoring?
Review telecommuting needs. Ensure that you and your key personnel have remote access to files, data, servers, IT devices, etc.
Keep amounts of hazardous materials waste to a minimum. Be mindful that the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) waste disposal group may also be affected by illness, increasing pick up wait times.
Start prioritizing experiments. If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and if it is feasible to freeze samples at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often. Ensure that critical materials are secured.
Prepare for delays in ordering. Ensure that you have sufficient materials/supplies for critical functions, e.g., PPE, CO2 tanks, liquid nitrogen tanks. Contact vendors/collaborators to discuss plans to suspend regular shipments (receiving and outgoing).
Be cognizant of upcoming deadlines. Although central research administration remains open, reviews by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP), Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IRB), etc., may be prolonged or delayed.
Keep personnel up-to-date on wellness training. All personnel should be trained on what to do if they are concerned that they have been exposed to an illness. This also includes training on prevention methods to keep a healthy and safe work environment. Please print and post the Safe Laboratory Guidance document in your laboratories/facilities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has helpful tips on what to do if you are exposed to the coronavirus.
The VPR office has created an example template regarding instructional laboratory guidance (visit the VPR website and click on “Laboratory Plan-Template”) to download the document). Your written plan should be shared with your Department Chair or Division Chief.
We hope that advance planning will allow everyone in your group to focus on their own efforts and work together as a team. Be prepared and stay safe!
Member of campus community tests positive for COVID-19
To our campus community,
This afternoon, Saturday, March 14, 2020, we learned that a member of our campus community who is both a staff member and a graduate student has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after returning from another state. The university is working closely with public health officials to support a full and speedy recovery for this individual.
The employee, who works in the Counseling Center at the Student Services Building, is self-isolating off campus. Co-workers and friends who had direct contact with this individual have been contacted and are being asked to self-isolate as well. We have confirmed that this individual was on campus briefly but did not have direct contact with any students or visit the Counseling Center due to spring break. The Counseling Center is open for crisis counseling. Students who have scheduled or need counseling services also may receive them, beginning later this week, via telemental health and by telephone.
Since this is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on our campus, we wanted to personally inform you of this event. As additional cases are diagnosed, we will post as much information as we can on our COVID-19 website. The Utah Department of Health continues to report on the total number of confirmed cases in the state at coronavirus.utah.gov/latest. We also will continue to communicate with you about significant developments as we work together through this challenging time.
If you have experienced the following, you should contact your health care provider concerning possible exposure to COVID-19:
- Fever of more than 100.5 degrees
- New or worsening cough
- New or worsening shortness of breath
- Close contact (6 feet or less) for a duration of 15 minutes or more with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- Recent travel to a country at a Level 3 CDC designation
Any member of the campus community who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact a medical provider by phone. Students can contact Student Health at 801-581-6431 to be assessed. If you do not have a health care provider, you can call RedMed at 801-213-3303 or U of U Health at 801-587-0712 to be assessed.
While you are experiencing symptoms, we ask that:
- Employees inform their supervisor, plan to self-isolate at home for 14 days and not report to work
- HRE residents who are remaining on campus should self-report via the form found at housing.utah.edu/coronavirus
In the meantime, all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to:
- Wash their hands with soap and water regularly
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces
- Practice social distancing by limiting exposure to crowds, avoiding handshaking and personal contact with others
University of Utah leaders are committed to protecting the health and safety of our community and supporting individuals who test positive for the COVID-19 virus. For a list of all resources available to the campus community, please visit dps.utah.edu/coronavirus.
Please know we appreciate your partnership as members of our campus in doing all we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and contribute to the health and well-being of our community.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
COVID-19 UPDATE: Main Hospital Valet & Employee Drop-Off
Beginning Monday, March 16, as part of U of U Health’s ongoing preparation for COVID-19, University Hospital valets will discontinue parking patient and visitor vehicles and instead adopt a new “guided self-parking model.”
Under this new model, valets will be dispersed to the surrounding patient and helipad terraces to direct patients and visitors to open stalls and guide them to the hospital. A number of golf carts will also be added in these parking terraces to help patients with mobility challenges.
Important items to note with this change:
- The existing valet staging area will be open for emergency traffic only.
Patients who meet COVID-19 screening criteria, or present with other emergencies, will self-park on level 1 of the helipad terrace.
- Patients with non-emergencies, or who do not present with symptoms of COVID-19, will self-park in the patient terrace. If the patient terrace reaches capacity, overflow parking will be available in the helipad terrace.
- At this time, no change is planned for the bus and taxi pick-up/drop-off locations.
- To help decrease congestion in front of the main hospital, staff being dropped off must use the Moran Eye Center circle or the College of Nursing parking lot.
- ID badges will be required for all staff accessing the hospital from the School of Medicine.
Chief Executive Officer
University of Utah Health – Hospitals and Clinics
Chief Operating Officer
University of Utah Health – Hospitals and Clinics