Urgent Message from UHS Director Dr. Ralph Manchester


COVID-19 cases continue to grow rapidly among our undergraduate student population.  This is a surge that to this point we have not seen on campus and is potentially a situation that will lead to a “pause” on River Campus and/or the Eastman School of Music if things don’t improve soon. The number of positive cases among students in the past two weeks alone is as much as the totals from the first two months of the fall semester, and the conversion rate—the rate at which exposures turn into positive cases—is much higher, as well.

A “pause” would go into effect on River Campus and/or the Eastman School of Music if 100 or more positive COVID-19 cases emerge among students, faculty and staff within a two-week period, and would include:

  • All in-person courses shifting to an online format;
  • Dining Services implementing a Grab-and-Go only policy for all meals, with groups of students assigned a time to pick up their food;
  • Student life becoming pretty much restricted to the residence halls until the number of cases stays below 100 for at least two weeks.

Things you can do to help prevent a pause:

  • Avoid gatherings where people are not masked and staying 6 feet apart. If you see a situation that looks unsafe or isn’t aligned with the University’s COVID safety protocols, use the COVID-19 Concern Report to share your concerns.
  • Students: Do not be in residence halls or campus houses that are not your own, and don’t provide others access to your residence.
  • Wear a face mask or face covering everywhere you can to protect yourself and others from infection.  And tell your friends to wear their masks.
  • Adhere to social distancing protocols.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and frequently.
  • Fully comply with the contact tracing process that identifies individuals who may have been exposed to COVID.
  • Complete your Dr. Chat Bot screening every day, and make yourself available for surveillance testing when called upon.

We cannot afford to be complacent right now despite the extensive pre-arrival student testing conducted recently and the decreasing number of COVID cases in the Rochester area. In order to continue the in-person semester together, we need to feel the sense of urgency to reduce our case numbers by making smart, personal decisions.

Ralph A. Manchester
Vice Provost and Director
University Health Service


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