The University of Michigan’s COVID-19 Campus Response Metrics and Mitigation Strategies were updated Monday to reflect the increased transmissibility of the delta variant as students return to classes. These metrics were used last semester when triggering various mitigation measures on campus.
If a metric is met, strategies such as increased testing, outdoor mask requirements and limited classroom seating may be considered, according to the University Record. These metrics will replace those first established in September 2020.
Washtenaw County reached a “high” level of disease transmission on Aug. 20 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning one of the University’s new metrics has already been met.
Many of the metrics will remain the same, but others have been adjusted to address new methods of monitoring. One updated system accounts for increases in case rates for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
The COVID-19 monitoring metrics focus on three areas: disease transmission, strain on public health capacity, and pressure on community and campus health system capacity.
Some of the new metrics include the doubling of student, faculty or staff cases within a week; a positivity rate of 3% or higher among asymptomatic people in the surveillance testing program; projections that isolation and quarantine housing will reach 80% capacity within two weeks; and limited availability of inpatient, critical care beds at Michigan Medicine.
If the University or wider community meets a metric, then it triggers a review of COVID-19 safety procedures and public health data from the Campus Health Response Committee, along with other public health experts and University leaders. The CHRC is an advisory group that works with medical experts to mitigate COVID-19 effects on campus by recommending strategies to University administration.
Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life and CHRC director, said in Monday’s announcement that it is crucial for the University to continue to adjust metrics as needed.
“As the pandemic continues to evolve, it was important to take a look at the situations throughout the next school year that could warrant a more intensive approach to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Ernst said. “Continued focus on these metrics will be important as we evaluate the policies and operational procedures in place to keep our campus as safe as possible.”
According to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard, 92% of students, 90% of faculty and 75% of staff have self-reported as fully vaccinated. The University reported 56 positive cases the week of Aug. 22 and two positive cases so far for the week of Aug. 29.
Daily Staff Reporter Paige Hodder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.