Chancellor's Communique

Keeping Campus Safe as Delta Variant Spreads - 8-11-21

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen conditions and public health guidance change rapidly. We find ourselves again at a pivot point as the delta variant spreads, driving surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Colorado and around the country - even in areas with high vaccination rates. 

Last Friday, we announced that masks are now required of everyone indoors on our campus - regardless of vaccination status. We made this decision to help safeguard the health of our community as we once again navigate changing circumstances. 

While the return of masks may not be welcome news to all, we know that wearing them is a safe, effective, evidence-based way to stem transmission. By wearing masks, we keep our campus operational, our students in classrooms, our researchers in labs and our providers in clinics.

We also announced that we will be implementing mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students and employees with approved medical or religious exemptions. The testing program will offer another layer of protection to our campus community. Both of these measures are intended to sustain the tremendous progress we have made together.

Campus leadership chose to take these steps now based on the latest data and public health guidance. 

  • The delta variant is now the dominant strain in our state, responsible for approximately 90% of all cases in Colorado - and it spreads about twice as easily from one person to another than previous strains of the virus. It is also more likely to cause hospitalization, and affects young people more seriously than previous variants.
  • While the majority of cases are among the unvaccinated, breakthrough cases are occurring among vaccinated people. Even though these infections are often mild, vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections are contagious and can spread the virus to others.
  • In Adams County, the 14-day rolling average rate of hospitalizations is 0.75 in 100,000 and rising - a rate similar to those seen last summer at this time. From June to July, the 7-day incidence rate per 100,000 shot up 152%.
  • The CDC has recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of  “substantial or high transmission.” Adams County and the rest of the Denver metro area fall into this category.

Vaccination is our greatest defense and surest path forward. Our campus is making steady progress ahead of our September 1 deadline, showing a shared commitment to the health and safety of all our colleagues and their families.

It is easy to get vaccinated if you haven’t done so already. Appointments are widely available at local providers, including UCHealth. You can get help finding a vaccine by visiting or calling 1-877-CO-VAX-CO (1-877-268-2926).

Please remember: If you are feeling ill - even if you’re unsure whether your symptoms could be COVID-related - stay home and self-report. Our contact tracing team will follow up with guidance and support.

Visit the campus coronavirus website for the latest information, and check your inbox for future updates. We will remain in close communication with our medical and public health experts, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Tri-County Health Department for guidance on the best next steps.

I am proud of the many ways we have come together to keep our campus open and our mission moving forward. As the pandemic continues to demand much of us, I want to thank you for answering the call. 


Don Elliman
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