UArizona leaders urge vigilance as campus and county COVID-19 cases remain low
Indoor mask use is still recommended on campus, and Commencement is currently expected to proceed as normal, university President Robert C. Robbins said Monday.
As the University of Arizona and Pima County face low COVID-19 case rates, university leaders caution that the pandemic is not over, and that they will continue to follow safety protocols.
In a virtual briefing on Monday, university President Robert C. Robbins noted that Pima County's COVID-19 community level, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was low, the lowest level on the scale.
The university reported just two positive cases on Friday, April 8 – the most recently available data in the university's COVID-19 dashboard. The positive cases that day amounted to a positivity rate of 0.6%.
But the campus community should still be cautious, Robbins added, especially as schools on the East Coast brace for a new wave with the BA.2 variant of the coronavirus.
"We must remain vigilant and keep our guard up because we're not done with this yes," he added. "We're in a better place, rates are low."
The low case counts would not change campus COVID-19 mitigation efforts, Robbins said, which include:
- Recommended, but not required, use of masks in indoor spaces
- Required masking in areas where medical patients or clinical research subjects are seen, and in spaces where personal protective equipment has always been required
- The availability of free surgical masks at building entrances and in classrooms
Robbins also noted that the university's TakeAway Testing program will remain in place through the semester, and that employees and students can still receive any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters. Appointments for the vaccine can be made on the Campus Health Service website.
Robbins said Commencement, which is scheduled for May 13 in Arizona Stadium, is still on track to proceed as normal. Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th U.S. surgeon general and a University Distinguished Laureate Professor of Public Health, who also spoke during the briefing, said university teams will study COVID-19 transmissibility and make any changes in the lead-up to the event as necessary.
"I'm fully anticipating we're planning for Commencement as usual," Robbins said, urging people with immunocompromising diseases to wear masks and remain socially distant. "My hope is that we'll have a very successful and fun Commencement in the stadium."
Robbins and Carmona said Monday's briefing was the last scheduled update for the semester. But, Robbins said, more may be added if COVID-19 conditions change to keep the community updated.
New suicide prevention resource for students, employees
Robbins during the briefing also highlighted a new suicide prevention initiative from Campus Health Service, available to both students and employees. The initiative's website, preventsuicide.arizona.edu, provides information on how to recognize warning signs of suicide, how to help others and how to support survivors of suicide attempts, along with a host of other resources.
"Support and treatment help most people who have thoughts about suicide, and I ask all of you to look out for one another and help those around you," Robbins said. "As we have highlighted during previous briefings, many people have faced significant, new mental health challenges as a result of this devastating pandemic."
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 (TALK). UArizona Counseling & Psych Services' 24/7 lifeline is 520-621-3334.
University of Arizona in the News