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Response to Chancellor May's COVID-19 press release

What is UCD doing to support students with COVID-19 ?

UCD Virus
By Eileen M. Samitz

On March 27th, Chancellor May sent out a press release which is important for the Davis community to be aware of in case they have not seen it. The link to the entire article is at:

https://www.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/news/checking-in-with-chancellor-may-we-are-resilient

The most relevant information in this article by UCD Chancellor May is the following section:

“Before I bring you this week’s updates, I must share that we have learned that a member of our faculty has been confirmed as positive for COVID-19. They were traveling in Europe and developed symptoms March 19 after they returned. They have been at home since returning to the U.S. and have not been on campus since March 5. For privacy reasons, we cannot release personally identifying information, but the faculty member has informed their departmental colleagues of the diagnosis and is currently self-isolating at home.

Earlier this week, in Dateline, we reported that a UC Davis student had tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home from a UC Education Abroad Program in Spain. They had been studying abroad since summer last year apart from a brief visit to campus in early January. The student is currently self-isolating at home.”

Since important and time sensitive details are not included in this press release by the Chancellor, I have sent him the following letter and asked for a response to these relevant questions.


Dear Chancellor May,

Thank you for your March 27th article “Checking in with Chancellor May: We Are Resilient” posted on line at:

https://www.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/news/checking-in-with-chancellor-may-we-are-resilient

Given that this new information you have released includes that a UCD student, who was studying in Spain, has recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is in self-quarantine, there are a number of time sensitive questions important to students, the campus, the Davis community and Yolo County. This is important because the student had been on the UCD campus in January when the spread of the virus was early, but underway. The following are the questions we need to know the answers to:

1) Which county is the COVID-19 positive student currently self-quarantining in?

2) When did the student and the UCD faculty member test positive?

3) Has Yolo County been notified of the positive tests of the student and the faculty member and when?

4a) Is the student self-quarantining in Davis?, b) Is the student in quarantine being provided assistance for their needs (i.e. food, medical supplies)?, c) are these needs being provided by UCD?, d) are roommates involved and are they also self-quarantining and being helped by UCD? e) are any exposed friends and family members being quarantined?

Even though UCD will be offering classes online, many UCD students are choosing to continue to live in Davis, often living with and socializing with students and others. This raises a few additional questions:

5) In light of the situation of this student who has tested COVID-19 positive, what are UCD’s plans to support additional students when they test positive for COVID-19 or become ill with COVID19 symptoms?

6) Where will COVID-19 positive UCD students be housed?

7) Will UCD be helping to ensure that the UCD student(s) in quarantine are provided basic needs of food and medical supplies and medical attention be provided?

UCD has a broad responsibility to assure the safety of its students, the campus community and the surrounding community. This is important because if the students are residing locally, it is likely their families are not nearby to help them and their roommates may not be able too.

UCD needs to step up and help support their students, faculty and staff to the extent needed in this serious pandemic and to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Not nearly enough action is being taken by UCD as evidenced by this recent Aggie article:
https://theaggie.org/2020/03/20/uc-davis-student-showing-symptoms-of-covid-19-unable-to-get-tested/

Further, UCD needs to not lose precious time, as we have learned by large cities like New York, and Seattle struggling with trying to quarantine and care for the many sick with COVID-19 and prevent its further spread, by cooperating and coordinating with the City of Davis and Yolo County authorities now before it is too late. UCD can help with the control of the COVID-19 outbreak in many ways including the use of its empty student housing, use of its food preparation facilities, having its campus police to help the City police, and the continued use of its Student Health Center facilities.

UCD also has the ability to communicate with its students, faculty and staff to give direction and updates of what actions are being take to control COVID-19 and what cooperation is needed of them to help. UCD needs to start planning with our City Council and Yolo County administrations now before it is too late and we would not be able to contain the spread of COVID-19 resulting in the loss of many lives. But the planning must start now.

In closing, a response to this communication would be greatly appreciated this week since, as we all know, all precautions must be taken as soon as possible to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Thank you for your time,

Eileen M. Samitz, Davis resident

Comments

John J. Troidl

Personally, I thought that Chancellor May's communication was very good and included information about a really smart idea which is the survey of students about technology readiness to guide them and the faculty in preparing and implementing online education this Spring Quarter (Which starts tomorrow!). And Ms. Samitz asks a number of valuable questions which can be helpful in extending the Chancellor's communication.

On the other hand, I found this element from the communication provided by the Chancellor's colleagues in Administration to be confusing: "Yes, we train for certain jobs, but no university in the country, or the world for that matter, has leaders who train for this magnitude of a traumatic crisis.".

May I beg to differ? The UC Davis School of Medicine has a Department called the Department of Public Health Sciences, and among other things these students (undergrad, masters, and PhD) are trained to deal with pandemics with some even specializing in that area.

Which brings up another question beyond the set that Ms. Samitz asks which are very good for giving us baseline information about how many, where, with what support, etc UCD students are among us. That other question is how are the resources of the University being used to assist all of us whether locally (with medical care hospital beds); regionally (with CV testing of students, faculty, and staff) and nationally (with the development of rapid cycle CV test kits, a vaccine, etc)?

We love to support you, UCD.... how are you helping us in the face of this pandemic?

Regards,

John Troidl, PhD

Colin Walsh

Eileen’s article raises some questions that fall into an area that has some interesting privacy questions. It seems different county’s are applying different standards.

“California, which has more than 4,600 cases, is a microcosm for how inconsistent the distribution of information has been during the pandemic. Los Angeles County provides a rough age distribution of patients and breaks down the cases into more than 140 cities and communities.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/us/coronavirus-data-privacy.html

Yolo county on the other hand has only identified that a cluster of diagnosed cases were in a west Sacramento neighborhood but has otherwise refrained from stating city locations.

The linked NY Times article has an interesting discussion relevant to this letter.

Most interesting of all to me though, I would very much like to know what UCD is doing to support faculty staff and students with COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis.

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