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COVID-19 Information

To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: Provost Matt Cecil
Date:  9/2/21
Subject: COVID-19 Update: September 2, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Good morning. We have nearly reached the end of week two of the fall semester, and I am grateful for everyone’s work during these difficult times. I am writing this morning to share an update on our COVID-19 status and explain a little more about how our decision indicators function to guide our approach to this ongoing crisis.

The COVID-19 Preparedness Team, made up of representatives from across campus, met as usual Wednesday. Based on that discussion and our current decision indicators, I believe it is prudent to:

  • Move our campus response level to “red” status
  • Strongly recommend masking outdoors in addition to our indoor masking requirement

Those changes will take effect tomorrow – Friday, September 3.

As a reminder, our decision indicators are not a computer program. We do not enter the numbers to “calculate” the response level on our campus. The indicators provide a high-level view that helps us understand (in order of importance): 1) What is our capacity to continue responding to the crisis locally on campus? And 2) What do regional and statewide indicators tell us about what’s likely to happen next?

Kentucky continues to experience a surge of COVID-19 cases. Our state now has the fourth-highest rate in the country at more than 90 cases per 100,000 residents per day. While we do have not have high numbers of reported cases on campus yet, we believe there is potential for a surge here as well and thus are taking the additional mitigation step of expanding our mask mandate (OR strongly recommending outdoor mask use). We review the data daily and may add new mitigations at any time.

Vaccination remains our best option to manage this ongoing pandemic and keep everyone healthy. Vaccines are safe and effective. We strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccines are readily available on campus and throughout the region and are free or covered by all health insurance plans. We also ask that anyone who is vaccinated to please enter your vaccinated status using our online form here. Doing so helps us by providing better data since vaccine status on campus is one of our decision indicators. It also will make you eligible for one of 125 $100 drawings every week. The winners from our first week vaccine incentive drawing are listed on our COVID-19 website, and more information on the contest is available on the vaccination incentive webpage.

We believe the remaining weeks in September will likely be the most difficult of the semester as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge in our region, across the nation and the globe. Continued diligence, including wearing masks and avoiding situations where others are not being safe, can help us to manage this surge and keep us on campus doing the important work of teaching and learning. With the Labor Day holiday weekend, it is particularly important that we all avoid situations where others are not being safe, even as we enjoy time with family and friends.

And as always, I want to remind everyone to continue to treat each other with grace, patience, and kindness as we navigate this crisis. This phase of the pandemic has hit everyone hard and we should remain supportive and take care of one another. Thank you.

Kind regards,