LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 4, 2020) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto emailed all students, faculty and staff yesterday announcing more efforts being made to keep the UK community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read the message below.
Dear Campus Community,
Earlier this week, I shared a new COVID-19 dashboard — a more comprehensive, daily look at the status of our campus in working to keep our community healthy and safe. You can view that dashboard here: https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-data-dashboard.
Today, I want to provide you with some early details of additional tools we will use as part of this community effort:
- This week we began wastewater testing on our campus, starting with selected residence halls. Research has emerged suggesting that wastewater testing may be an additional, effective tool to identify early signs of exposure to viruses. Following the latest research has been a fundamental foundation to our restart plans from the very beginning. In short, the virus can be detectable in wastewater or sewage. As a result, detection of increasing levels in wastewater could be an early indicator of an outbreak or increased prevalence.
- We are starting the testing in Ingels Hall, which is one of our isolation facilities, at the recommendation of our START team. That will give us a control group against which to compare subsequent testing in other residence halls. This effort will be a phased approach, as it represents one more tool in our toolkit around prevention and mitigation of virus spread.
- We are going to maintain for the rest of this semester an outdoor testing site for students. This site is located on campus and operated by our partner, Wild Health, which conducted our baseline and recent re-testing efforts. This site, located outside The 90 on the lawn near William T. Young Library, will be available for students who are asymptomatic, but who would like a test.
- The site will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- If students are symptomatic, they should not utilize this testing site. Instead, they should immediately contact University Health Service at (859) 323-2778.
- On days when there is inclement weather, the site will move inside The 90.
- Asymptomatic students can register for a test here: https://uk-retesting.as.me/schedule.php
- Employees may continue to be tested at our community testing sites, located in the new parking lot on College Way near the UK motor pool on the far southern edge of campus and on the grounds of Eastern State Hospital, which UK operates and manages for the state. The hospital is located off of Newtown Pike near the I-64/75 interstate exchange. Eastern State is located at UK’s Coldstream Research Campus. To receive a free COVID-19 test, an individual can register at: https://lexington.wildhealth.com. Testing will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
Even though we already have had challenges, and I know we will continue to confront many this semester, I remain gratified by the way our community has come together. In a collective and collaborative effort, we are continuing our work and our mission, all guided by a commitment to do what is necessary to keep each other safe and healthy.
We have on our side a world-class academic medical center and a team of leading medical and public health experts who have, from the beginning, guided our efforts. Just today, two of our START team experts discussed our comprehensive approach to keeping campus safe. View that discussion here.
Always, our actions will be informed by data, science and the best available health information we can gather. And, we will remain focused on the most important factors that we are examining every day:
- Supply of PPE.
- The number of critical care beds in UK HealthCare to serve both campus and community.
- Positivity rates.
- The capacity for daily screening and ongoing contact tracing.
- The capacity for isolation and quarantining.
- The ability to provide a robust residential experience on our campus.
- Guidance from local, state and federal health and public policy officials.
This virus is invisible, but we have multiple tools to keep our campus safe. We must be nimble and adaptable, too. I believe we are, and we are demonstrating that every day.
Thank you for your flexibility and gracious sense of commitment to our mission as a community.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.