April 10, 2020
To: Faculty, staff, students and parents
April 10, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
We are closing on a month since we moved education and most services at UC Merced to remote delivery because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While across the United States we are starting to see signs of hope, in Merced the effects of the virus are now starting to be felt more acutely.
As of Thursday, April 9, Merced County had 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19 , and it is unfortunate to note that one of the newest cases is a member of our campus community. The person has not been on campus since before spring break, and is now recovering at home in a private residence in Merced. Given the rapid progress of this crisis, the university will limit announcements to cases that present a significant change in circumstances or have broad impact on our community.
You should take note of the county’s latest directives , which include a clarification and strengthening of the requirement to stay at home, except for essential travel (educational institutions are categorized as essential); guidance to avoid gatherings; and a closing of public outdoor parks and recreational facilities (such as Lake Yosemite), though individual outdoor activity remains permitted, with appropriate distancing. The university has closed recreational facilities except for walking trails.
The county is also strongly encouraging the use of face covering for any interactions. We cannot agree strongly enough with this practice. On campus, our Emergency Operations Center will be distributing face covers to designated employees and students still in residence, starting Tuesday, April 14, in COB1.
We remain in discussion with the city and county about providing shelter to first responders in empty residence halls, should the course of the pandemic accelerate sharply in Merced. And I’d like to remind all from our community who have the ability to join me in donating blood on Wednesday, April 15, at the Italo-American Lodge in Merced.
Also, the University of California will be reaching out to those with UC-held student loans that are currently in repayment (such as Dream Loans, institutional loans and Perkins loans), announcing temporary measures such as a halt to interest accrual, collections actions, and late fees. This is another way the university is acknowledging the very real economic hardship felt by so many in our broad community.
Our amazing faculty continue to perform a great service by sharing their expertise with the general public. Some recent examples include:
- An op-ed by Professors Nancy Burke and Irene Yen and Medical Education Director Thelma Hurd about COVID-19 revealing health disparities in the Valley .
- Scientific American’s highlighting of Professor Anna Song’s research on the connection between smoking and COVID-19 susceptibility .
- Professor Robin DeLugan’s thinking on the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant farm workers .
- Interviews by Univision and Radio Bilingue with Professor Marcos Garcia-Ojeda about curbing the spread of COVID-19.
- CalMatters’ story on economic impacts of the virus , featuring commentary by Professor Ketki Sheth.
- Deputy University Librarian Donald Barclay explaining the real danger of fake news in a time of crisis.
Finally, I want to remind everyone that there is news apart from COVID-19. Ten of our graduate students have advanced to the finals of our annual Grad Slam competition, and we are excited to see the final round on May 8. And the U.S. census continues its very important work, to which everyone should respond and be counted .
Please remember to take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and that even apart, we are better together.
This is an important message from UC Merced. Please share with colleagues who may not have ready access to email. If you require a Spanish translation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .