Thursday, September 2, 2021

Dear Hawkeye faculty, staff, and students:

Thank you for your continued efforts to make our university community as safe as possible. Our campus experience is richer when we are able to participate in person, with faculty and students in our classrooms and studios, researchers in their labs, and organizations and clubs meeting face to face. For everyone to keep enjoying these aspects of the Iowa experience, we all need to be vaccinated and mask up in the classroom and during office hours. 

The spirit of care and collaboration at Iowa continues to inspire me. I am heartened, for example, by our student leaders stepping up with new vaccination incentives. These new incentives, such as an inside tour of Kinnick Stadium, will be announced soon. It is this type of encouragement and social norming that will help us increase vaccinations and mask usage on campus, which are our best lines of defense against the COVID virus, including the Delta variant.

The latest information from the Iowa Department of Public Health was released on Wednesday, and in Johnson County the seven-day rolling average of positive tests is:

  • 49 as of Aug. 31, 2021,
  • 30 one week ago, and
  • 159 on this date last year.

On campus, the seven-day rolling average of self-reported positive tests is:

  • 6 as of Aug. 31, 2021, 
  • 7 one week ago, and
  • 120 on this date last year.

Our UI Health Care admissions are stable as related to COVID:

  • 45 as of Aug. 31, 2021, and
  • 38 one week ago.
  • The vast majority of patients are unvaccinated (80%) and not from Johnson County (90%).

As you can see, our metrics continue to show relatively stable and low numbers on campus and in Johnson County. Despite these encouraging signs, I continue to advocate for the UI community as staunchly as I can. I am in regular consultation with faculty and student leaders, with my fellow Iowa public university presidents, and with the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and we continue to explore how to enhance safety protocols. These include:

  • Continued weekly monitoring of waste water for all residence halls, with no evidence of COVID outbreaks to date;
  • The provision of KN95 masks for faculty and students who would like them;
  • Working with immunocompromised faculty and staff on accommodations;
  • The creation of several videos featuring student athletes encouraging vaccinations including Caitlin Clark, Spencer Petras, and Connor McCaffery; and 
  • Widely distributing a new video message from Brooks Jackson, dean of the Carver College of Medicine, about the importance vaccinations and masking.

I know this is a challenging time, we are all exhausted, and we had hoped to be further along with this pandemic by now. But I am confident that if any university can come together around a pandemic, it is Iowa.  

I received a lot of positive feedback about my message last week, so I will continue to share important COVID information directly with you throughout the early fall semester. 

Again, thank you for all you are doing to ensure a healthy Hawkeye community.

Barbara J. Wilson