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With rising state cases, new variant, UArizona keeps same mitigation plan

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The University of Arizona held its last update until the new year Monday. Concerns over higher case counts come during the holidays.

The university is nearing the semester end on Dec. 8, right as cases around the state have been on a steady rise.

“I would strongly, strongly, encourage everyone before you leave just get a test,” said Dr. Robert Robbins, UArizona president.

The U of A is heading into the break in full operations, with masks required for everyone in indoor settings where social distancing isn’t possible. For now, things will remain that way when students get back, while leadership said a move to all online or a hybrid is unlikely.

“As of right now, the plans are to come back in January in the same format we’re finishing strong this semester with,” said Robbins.

“We reserve the right to make changes based on higher transmissibility, less resources in the community, so if everything’s moving in the wrong direction, we might have to do something a hybrid or go all digital,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, with the UArizona reentry taskforce. “We’re not anticipating that, but I don’t want to give anybody a false sense of security as well, and we hold those in our tool box and we’ll use them if absolutely necessary.”

The University’s zip code has a transmissibility rate above 1, meaning the virus is spreading, but the percentage of people testing positive on the campus remains low: only 2%.

To keep in guidance with federal mandates, university employees have to be vaccinated by mid-January. When it was announced, around 50% of staff said they were vaccinated, now that is around 80%. That could be helping keep transmission low, but with an unknown variant and the holidays, there’s a pause for concern.

“The message here is we cannot become complacent. Everyone needs to get vaccinated and get boosters,” said Carmona.

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