Chancellor's Communique

COVID-19 on the Rise 

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Our state is experiencing a rapid and serious surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations ‒ one that could mark the worst peak in Colorado since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Despite our state’s great strides over the summer and early fall, we find ourselves again at a critical moment in time. It is vital that we each continue doing everything within our power to help stem the rising tide.

COVID-19 By the Numbers

Here is a look at the statistics:

  • An estimated 1 in 48 Coloradans was infected with COVID-19 last week. 
  • A total of 1,470 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 now, and we are projected to hit over 2,200 by January 1, surpassing 2020’s high point of 1,847.
  • More than 90% of acute care beds statewide are in use now, and current models show Colorado possibly surpassing total hospital capacity by the end of the year.
  • The vast majority ‒ 82% ‒ of hospitalized patients in Colorado are unvaccinated, yet breakthrough cases among the vaccinated could suggest waning immunity is putting people at risk. 
  • Of cases confirmed on our campus since October 1, 88% were fully vaccinated but had not yet received boosters.

Why Here, Why Now?

It is not fully clear at this time why Colorado is experiencing these spikes, particularly when we were not long ago making gains.

  • The highly transmissible delta variant is no doubt part of the picture, as are the approximately 20% of eligible Coloradans who remain unvaccinated, paired with breakthrough cases among the vaccinated. 
  • There are hot spots of low vaccination rates and high transmission dotting our state, impacting all of us. 
  • In addition, there are no uniform rules statewide around masking and physical distancing.

Colorado School of Public Health Dean Jon Samet has noted that improved transmission control and an increase in booster vaccinations among adults, as well as growing vaccination rates among children ages 5 to 12 who are now eligible for vaccination, will help improve the situation in Colorado. Dean Samet also reminds us that we don’t need a mask mandate to wear a mask, and that our own decisions for protecting ourselves and our families ultimately impact the health of everyone.

A Focus on What Works

These numbers are daunting, to be sure, and changing by the day. I share them not to cause panic, but instead to highlight the critical importance of remaining vigilant and taking the precautions we know work to help prevent transmission of the virus. 

I encourage you to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Boosters are now available to all Coloradans 18 and older six months or more after the initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You can schedule your booster through UCHealthMy Health Connection, another medical provider or any vaccine provider

Don’t forget your flu shot. Make your appointment by calling the Campus Health Center at 303-724-6242. Students, employees and household members age 3+ are eligible. You can find flu vaccines at other area providers here.

Ensure you are observing campus safety protocols:

  • Wear your mask in indoor campus spaces, including classrooms, conference rooms and common areas such as elevators, walkways and hallways.
  • Observe posted COVID capacities, in place to help ensure adequate physical distancing in campus spaces.
  • Take breaks and meals outdoors when possible and as weather permits. When it is necessary to take breaks or meals indoors, find a designated space, keep 6+ feet from others, wear a mask when not eating or drinking, and limit unmasked time in these spaces.
  • Take advantage of the many COVID-19 testing options available for yourself and members of your household.
  • Submit a self-report form if you have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive or may have been exposed, regardless of vaccination status.

Plan ahead and take precautions as you get together with family and friends this holiday season. Find tips from the CDC for celebrating safely.

A Note on Gratitude

Our gratitude and support is with those on the frontlines of this historic challenge that is seemingly without end, as they work to save lives amid extraordinarily difficult circumstances. And our deepest thanks to each of you for doing your part to keep our campus and community moving forward. 

Please stay safe and healthy as we head into the holiday season.

Sincerely,

Don Elliman
Chancellor