Published on October 30, 2020
As most of you are aware from recent news, COVID cases are dramatically increasing in the St. Louis region and across the US. At this time, current models predict steep increases in COVID cases and hospitalizations which could continue through the winter and be worse than this past March and April. We are constantly monitoring symptomatic employees and COVID cases among our WashU personnel, and we are alert for any mini-outbreaks or other indications of COVID spread on-campus.
I want to reiterate a couple of important messages:
- We are not seeing transmission among our researchers when public health requirements are followed, and we want to continue to keep our faculty and staff safe. Thank you all for your continued vigilance to reduce the spread and keep your colleagues, friends, and family healthy.
- Be prepared to decrease research activity if necessary. If we start to see COVID transmission in our research groups, or if the situation in St. Louis becomes dire, we may ask the research labs to reduce activity/density. If we have to ramp down research activity, it is unlikely to be as rapid or as draconian as we did in March, but schedules and shifts may need to be re-adjusted to reduce density on campus.
- Wear a mask, keep physically distant, and stay at home if you are experiencing any COVID symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (greater than 15 minutes in close contact over the course of the day). If you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed, please call the COVID Call Center at 314-362-5056 (all WashU personnel). In addition, students on the medical campus can e-mail Dr. Karen Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org, and students on the Danforth campus can call the Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-6666. These measures are required to minimize the spread of COVID on campus. We also strongly encourage you to follow these principles in your normal, everyday activities (shopping, exercising, running errands, etc.) in order for you and your family to stay COVID free.
- Keep the density in your labs/research areas low. If you find that your lab is crowded to the point that you are unable to conduct your research while remaining physically distant, or if others around you are not wearing a mask, please alert your lab manager or faculty member/PI. It may be necessary to adjust the lab schedule and shifts to reduce density or reinforce the masking requirement. If discussing the issue with your faculty member/PI is not possible or is not effective, speak to your division chief, department chair, or other institutional leader (e.g. Center/Institute Director, Associate Dean for Research, Dean depending on your school). There is also a place at the bottom of the OVCR COVID website to report a concern.
- Do not take an unmasked break or eat or drink with others (we take our masks off to eat and drink). The few transmissions on campus have occurred when people did not wear a mask. If you cannot find an appropriately physically distanced place for a break, speak up to your PI, division chief, department head, center director, etc. We need to know if there are areas on campus where our personnel need more space to take breaks safely. If you notify us, we can identify additional space to accommodate your needs.
We are able to continue our research, make impactful discoveries, and advance the careers of our trainees because of our communal efforts to reduce the spread of this virus. Thank you again for all you are doing to keep our campus safe for everyone.
Jennifer Lodge, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Research