Late this week, I traveled to Western Kentucky and visited with members of our community impacted by the horrific storms that cut a path of devastation through so much of our state in December.
Along with Vice President for Land-grant Engagement Nancy Cox, I talked to workers at our Research and Education Center at Princeton Station, heard from officials in Caldwell County and toured storm-ravaged areas in Mayfield and Dawson Springs. At each stop, I was amazed by the resolve and resilience of people who have lost so much, but have maintained such deep reservoirs of hope for the future.
The encounters reminded me of the importance of community and the hope that, even in the darkest of moments, there is the promise of something brighter ahead.
Communities sustain us. They connect us. They provide a sense of safety and support.
Over the last 24 months, our campus and our world have continually been confronted by a pandemic. But, at every moment of challenge, this community has resolved to hang together. We’ve done what was essential to keep our people – our students, faculty and staff – safe while remaining committed to our mission to advance Kentucky.
Over the next few months, we will continue to face challenges but I remain hopeful because I know this community will continue to work together to do whatever is necessary to keep our people safe and healthy.
A few things, in particular, will be keys to our success.
Boosters First, booster shots represent the best path forward in warding off serious illness from COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. We reached a more than 90 percent vaccination rate on this campus – not through mandates – but by working together and incentivizing healthy behaviors.
We are taking the same approach with boosters. An incentive campaign with regular cash prize drawings begins next week. Anyone who is part of our campus, and has proof that they have been boosted, can enter.
Student Booster Incentive: http://go.uky.edu/CatsGetBoosted
Employee Booster Incentive: https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/employee-vaccine-incentives
Masks Second, masks are mandated in all indoor spaces of our campus. Masks represent an additional layer of protection. We’ve taken the step of purchasing KN95 masks for everyone on our campus. We’ve started with two per person and, in all, have now ordered some 400,000 masks. You can learn more about the proper way to wear your mask here: https://uknow.uky.edu/campus-news/tips-wearing-your-kn95-mask. If you see that people are not compliant with mask-wearing and want to report it, you have several options. Learn more here.
Vaccination Rates Third, we have excelled as a campus community in ensuring high vaccination rates.
Our campus continues to maintain its strong vaccination rate – our single best defense against the virus.
This week’s numbers:
UK Community: 91.4%
And don’t forget your flu shot. Get your flu shot. The flu is particularly harsh this season, as our health care facilities continue to manage increased cases from the Omicron variant. Sign up for your flu shot today if you haven’t already. Learn more here.
Our community has always met the moment throughout this unprecedented period. I am convinced that we have done so because we never forget that we are a community that cares.
Thank you for being that community.
Eli Capilouto President