Checking In With Chancellor May: Stay the Course
To the UC Davis Community:
As more people become fully vaccinated, there are more questions about what they can do with their new status.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people, including guidance on visits with other fully vaccinated people. (You are considered fully vaccinated two or more weeks after your second dose of vaccine in a two-dose series, or two or more weeks after you have received a single-dose vaccine.)
But please note: This guidance applies only to private spaces, not to health care settings or public places like our campuses. There is a whole other set of recommendations for health care infection prevention and control, and the CDC further states, in regard to public places, that fully vaccinated people should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves and others, by adhering to protocols that include face coverings, physical distancing (at least 6 feet) and frequent hand-washing.
In addition, here at UC Davis we continue to require regular asymptomatic testing for access to our facilities. This testing continues to be absolutely essential, even for vaccinated people, because we do not yet know everything about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing transmission or infection. For example, they protect us from serious illness, but do they prevent us from spreading the coronavirus?
There is a risk that the virus may find harbor in our upper respiratory tract even after we are vaccinated. So, by getting tested regularly, we are protecting our families and friends as they wait to get vaccinated.
We have come so far in this pandemic — if you have been vaccinated, please remain vigilant until others are as well.
Finals are next week (very important) and after that: spring break (very necessary)! We are encouraging “staycations” — to have students stay on campus or in town, to avoid travel that could put them at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19, and potentially infecting others when they return.
Our city-campus partnership, Healthy Davis Together, sweetened Aggie staycations by offering $75 grants that students could use to pay for projects and activities during spring break, March 20-28. Response was overwhelming, so much so that we boosted the number of grants from 500 to 750 and now 2,000 (at least)!
News of this incentive has spread across the country, in newspaper and TV coverage, showcasing another example of our efforts to safeguard the community’s health. We have already received national attention for our asymptomatic testing program, in which the UC Davis Genome Center has so far analyzed more than 420,000 saliva samples — including those from students and employees, and 100,000 from the community, a milestone we hit earlier this week.
It is important to note where the money for Spring Break Grants is coming from: federal and state funds for COVID-19 response, and philanthropic gifts specifically tied to public health goals through the Healthy Davis Together initiative.
The grant program also bolsters our community’s economic health: The Spring Break Grants to be distributed next week will be redeemable at four Davis businesses that sell products in four grant categories: Get Active, Get Artsy, Home Improvement and Let’s Stay In. A third of all students who applied for the grants chose the Home Improvement category — and I am eager to hear about what these students and the other grant recipients are doing. We will be checking in with them and will let you know what we learn.
Our Aggie community can be quite creative: Take a look at the winning entries, announced this week, in our “Every Aggie Together” contest asking for public service messages on wearing masks correctly and consistently.
Reopening date for the ARC
Not only will we have more in-person classes next quarter, but more recreation opportunities as well. As I announced in my Thursday Thoughts video yesterday, the Activities and Recreation Center will reopen on Monday, April 19, for students only, with limited capacity as specified by the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. We are looking at a May 1 reopening for staff and faculty.
We have already welcomed back students to the Rec Pool, the Craft Center and the Equestrian Center, and each of those venues is offering in-person classes with appropriate safety measures. Outdoor Adventures continues to operate its gear rental program and is hosting virtual classes. Our Living Well program will offer outdoor dance, group exercise, small group training and personal training for students, faculty and staff in spring quarter. Look for complete information on the Campus Recreation website.
Rest assured we are working as fast as possible to reopen the ARC. The health of our community has been and continues to be our No. 1 priority, and as such we are using one large space in the ARC for COVID-19 testing and another large space for a vaccine clinic. Therefore, in planning to reopen, we must consider the logistical details of how to limit contact between people coming in for recreation and those who are coming in for testing and vaccinations.
Further, and this process is underway, we must hire and train approximately 175 students for the ARC’s daily operations, including regular disinfection procedures. These students also need time to adjust their schedules and perhaps alter their living arrangements to work at the ARC.
We tried to reopen the ARC twice in the last year, only to shut down after 15 days when Yolo County returned to the purple tier of the state’s reopening plan. This time we are optimistic the county will stay in the red tier (and continue to improve), providing our student employees with consistent schedules and a dependable source of income.
As you know, UC Davis Health has been administering vaccines since mid-December, first to frontline health workers, and now to patients, and doing so in accordance with the tier system as established by public health officials. As of yesterday, UC Davis Health had given almost 80,000 doses, including more than 36,100 second doses.
We opened a Davis campus vaccine clinic in February, also following the tier system, and are now at the point where we are vaccinating employees of any age (including student employees) who are working on campus. As of Wednesday, we had administered 4,015 doses, including 975 second doses.
A week from today, Friday, March 19, the Davis campus vaccine clinic will convert to a public clinic, in conjunction with the state taking over scheduling of vaccination appointments through the myturn.ca.gov website (or call 833-422-4255).
If you have not done so already, you should enter your name and contact information into the My Turn system. It will tell you right away if you are eligible, and, if so, where you might be able to get the vaccine near where you live. You can then pick the place and make an appointment. If it is not your turn yet or if appointments are not available, you can register to be notified when you are eligible or when appointments open up.
Davis campus appointments are expected to first show up in the My Turn system on Wednesday, March 17. As noted earlier, appointments are now being scheduled (through the Health-e-Messaging portal) for employees who are working on campus. The next tier will be ages 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. Keep checking the Campus Ready COVID-19 Vaccine Program webpage for the latest updates.
I also want to repeat what we have been saying all along: You should get your vaccine wherever you can, say, from your health care provider or a pharmacy — you need not wait for a turn at the Davis campus vaccine clinic.
Spring is in the air
We all miss spring quarter the way it used to be — and we are optimistic for next year. In the meantime, with more in-person classes and more recreation opportunities, not to mention Picnic Day (virtual, again, but still a UC Davis tradition not to be missed), we are excited about the next three months, excited to be part of this thriving university, excited for its future.
Gary S. May