The COVID-19 Epidemic: Convocation in the time of COVID-19May 26, 2020
The campus conferment of degrees was also virtual and the comments from Chancellor Elliman and President Kennedy spoke to graduation in the time of COVID-19. The Norlin Charge was read by three retiring Regents of the University of Colorado. Each year that I hear the story of President Norlin and his motivation for penning the charge, I am reminded of the days when racism and prejudice were rampant in Colorado. Norlin was University of Colorado’s President from 1919 through 1939. During the early years of his presidency, the KKK controlled the Colorado Legislature, which demanded that Norlin dismiss Catholics and Jews from the faculty. He resisted and state funding was lost for a year.
In our post-COVID-19 world, with sadness, we have announced that ColoradoSPH instruction will be remote for the 2020 fall semester at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. We made the decision with only three months before the start to the semester to facilitate the difficult challenges facing continuing and incoming students. We weighed risks and safety, logistics, timing, and continuing to offer the highest quality instruction. For the fall, remote education was viewed as the right choice for students at CU Anschutz. Decisions are still pending for the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University campuses.
The Colorado COVID-19 Modeling Group continues to closely track the epidemic and its course as the restrictions that “bent the curve” are lightened in a measured way. The most recent findings were released today (May 26). We emerged from “Safe at Home” to “Safer at Home" at the end of April for the state generally, and about 10 days later for six of the seven Metro Denver counties.” The modeling indicates that the epidemic has been controlled for now and that the estimated reproductive number (R0) remains below one (if R0 is below one, epidemic spread ends).
The report explores scenarios that extend through November 2020. Absent an unexpected retreat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the modeling indicates a need for sustained social distancing for all and ongoing maintenance of a higher degree of distancing for older persons. We can avoid an unmanageable “second peak,” but only with continued adherence by all to the needed public health measures.
I have mentioned the collaborative series on the COVID-19 epidemic with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The most recent was a conversation with Marc Moss, Division Head for Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, and Traci Priebe, Charge Nurse in the Critical Care Unit at UCHealth’s University of Colorado Hospital. Watch it to hear their powerful accounts of taking care of very ill people with COVID-19 who cannot have family visits, and the impact of providing this care on healthcare providers. They spoke repeatedly of patients being isolated from their families, even when dying. What a moment for a family to lose in-person contact and for the sick person not to have hands-on support.
Until next week,
Jonathan Samet, MD, MS
Dean, Colorado School of Public Health