UK’s Capilouto issues mid-semester COVID report

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Bowman statue in the Gatton Student Center with a face mask on. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Public Affairs) —  On Oct. 9, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto issued a midterm semester report on UK’s progress in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.

His message below came as UK entered the second half of the fall semester. The report can be found at the link below.

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Dear Campus Community:

Thanks to you, we reached an important milestone this week; we crossed the halfway point of this unprecedented semester. Thousands of members of our community have worked for months on plans to reopen and then to implement our restart playbook, and our progress would not have been possible without you.

I know that navigating this virus has created indescribable anxiety and concern. The stress of managing work and family, child care needs and student support has stretched many of you beyond what should be expected or what anyone would consider fair. I know “thank you” is not enough. I hope we can bring some relief to these tough circumstances through enhanced work-life support and partnerships we are exploring with both the city and Fayette County Public Schools.

But, make no mistake, your efforts — far before the semester began and every day since — have been incredible. You’ve demonstrated our most important promise: that we care.

This community deeply cares. That is evident through the decisions you’ve made this semester.

This mid-term semester report provides rich details about our efforts to confront the virus and manage its spread. The numbers tell a compelling story. To date, through our modern public health infrastructure, UK has conducted more than 30,000 tests, starting with mandatory baseline testing for every student returning to campus. We have offered free, ongoing testing for employees and now for the community. Our seven-day average of cases has dropped in recent weeks and has been stable over the last month. But, we know testing alone is not enough. UK Health Corps, seven days a week, conducts extensive contact tracing and provides holistic support to our community.

Our number of active cases — those who currently are infected and are isolating — has, over time, declined. We still have plenty of capacity in our isolation facilities where students who test positive are living, and being supported, until they recover.

Using the recommendations of our START team of clinicians, researchers and public health professionals, we have expanded our initial, baseline efforts into targeted, ongoing testing. That includes retesting populations on our campus with more potential exposure to the disease, ongoing random testing and cutting-edge efforts like testing wastewater from residence halls.

We have begun partnering with the city — stepping up joint police patrols and revising guidance to our Code of Student Conduct with provisions related to public health — to ensure healthy behavior guidelines are followed off campus, too.

In the face of this virus that attacks indiscriminately, we must not let down our guard.

At the same time, we believe our decision to return to campus was right for our students, who will benefit from the education we provide. As the community’s largest employer, it was the right decision for the economic health of Fayette County. We are a resource for research, discovery, education and service. And we want to be a partner for our community’s progress and health — a partner that cares.

In coming back — in opening our doors to our students and all those we serve — we believe we have been.

All of that is thanks to you.

Eli Capilouto