Messages & News

September 30, 2020

Campus Response Metrics and Mitigation Strategies

The Campus Health Response Committee (CHRC) is responsible for continuously monitoring real-time data on virus testing and new infections, as well as our capacity to perform contact tracing and provide needed isolation and quarantine support to those who are infected. They have recommended and university leadership has endorsed the identification of a set of situations (Response Metrics) that would prompt consideration of more intensive local or campus-wide policies to slow the transmission of COVID-19 (Mitigation Tools and Enhanced Mitigation Strategies). These Response Metrics will be used to prompt a broader review by public health and medical experts convened by the Dean of the School of Public Health and they will further review the data along with the CHRC and evaluate the options for use of any of the Mitigation Tools and Enhanced Mitigation Strategies. In the event a review is triggered, the University president will be informed and will consult with academic and executive leadership about next steps in our response based on the recommendation of the public health and medical experts.

If you have questions about the Response Metrics and Mitigation Measures, please submit your questions here and join us on Friday from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. for our Campus Weekly COVID-19 Briefing. Campus leaders will provide updates and information about campus conditions and our community will have an opportunity to have their questions answered.

Response Metrics

Current information on cases, testing, and capacity of public health and medical systems is essential to inform policy. Information must be tracked across multiple streams of indicators. These streams include close monitoring for increases in disease spread and strain on health system and public health system capacity, to ensure that infected individuals can be cared for and subsequent transmission contained. These thresholds and metrics are based on those currently in use at the state and county level, as well as national guidelines. Additional resources include: the MI Safe Start Plan, the World Health Organization Framework for monitoring COVID-19 Public Health Indicators, and the Preventing Epidemics playbook.

Situations that might provoke changes in our campus plans include any of the following:

1. Increases in Disease Spread:

  • 5 days of sustained increases in student, staff, or faculty infections, determined in partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department
  • 5 days of sustained test positivity over 20% (inclusive of all testing)
  • Over a 14 day period, 3 clusters that exceed the ability or capacity for full contact tracing, as determined by Washtenaw County Health Department
  • 1 cluster with >100 contacts
  • In Washtenaw County, >70 new cases per million; sustained 10% positivity, or 3 consecutive days of +10% case increase

2. Strain on Public Health Capacity:

  • Inability to provide prompt case investigation (24 hours from health department notification to UM in at least 75% of cases) and prompt contact tracing (48 hours to first attempt for 50% of contacts) for our Faculty/Staff/Student population
  • Isolation and quarantine housing projected to reach capacity within 14 days, or 80% capacity of 600 beds

3. Strain on Community and Campus Health System Capacity:

  • Inability to assess symptomatic individuals and return results within a reasonable and actionable turnaround time (<=3 days)
  • Local health systems experiencing internal surge levels (e.g., including >300 visits per day for UHS, local medical systems no longer able to sustain normal levels of non-COVID care)
  • Diminished inpatient and critical care bed capacity at Michigan Medicine
  • Diminished supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Mitigation Tools and Enhanced Mitigation Measures

As explained above, if a metric is met, this will trigger a review of the data by the Campus Health Response Committee as well as other public health and medical experts and a review by university leadership to consider implementation of additional mitigation measures. Potential responses to increases in COVID-19 transmission should be targeted when possible towards the source of the increase—a cluster of infections within a residence hall for example. If transmission continues to increase, responses should prompt a greater use of mitigation measures that extend across larger segments of the university community. Below is a list of examples of mitigation and data collection tools available for university-level mitigation. The list is not meant to be exhaustive but to describe the range and types of measures that could be considered.

Initiatives that are in place or being piloted. These tools may be able to be increasingly used or further enforced to support epidemic response:

  1. Entrance screening for enforcement of symptom tracking
  2. Increase asymptomatic testing of groups with increasing cases
  3. Initiate wastewater surveillance for associated buildings

Population measures to increase physical distancing and de-densify campus spaces:

  1. Restrict in-person extracurricular activities
  2. Restrict gatherings (indoor / outdoor) on campus or off campus, in partnership with local public health
  3. Travel restrictions for on-campus students (e.g. no university-affiliated travel outside of the local area)
  4. Close campus gathering locations including bars and restaurants, in partnership with local public health
  5. 2-week pause to in-person classes
  6. Semester-long change to remote classes
  7. Shelter-in-place (e.g. stay in living space except for food, medical services, or for work), in partnership with local public health
  8. Close residence halls – This measure must be evaluated and undertaken with care due to the risk of seeding infections from the student population into other communities

The press release is available on Michigan News.

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