COVID-19 Update to Campus: Nov. 5, 2020

To the Eastern Michigan University community:

This week I am departing a bit from my traditional format of these messages. As you know, at the end of each week’s message, I like to highlight examples of Eastern Michigan University excellence. This is an important opportunity for us to recognize the high level expertise among our students, faculty and staff.

Given the challenging environment and the great stress many of us are currently experiencing on two fronts -- the COVID -19 pandemic and the too-close-to-call national election – I begin this week by sharing news that reflects the overall institutional quality of Eastern Michigan University and the commitment of our campus community to our collective education and well-being .

  • Professors react to Presidential election: Five Eastern Michigan University professors, ranging from the disciplines of Political Science to Africology and African-American Studies, weighed in with EMU Today late yesterday with their perspectives on this year’s election and their primary takeaways of this year’s volatile political season. You can read the full article on EMU Today: Eastern experts weigh-in with their impressions of a historic presidential election.
  • In just a few minutes, at 6:30 p.m., the Faculty Senate Task Force on Race, Diversity and Inclusion is hosting a listening session for students tonight: What Now? A conversation with EMU professors on the aftermath of the 2020 election. Faculty experts in politics, social statistics, history, psychology, women and gender studies, and African American studies will be on hand to answer students’ questions about what is happening, what all of this means, and what steps you can take going forward.
  • The work of Professors Barbara Patrick, Kristine Ajrouch , Grigoris Argeros , and Natalie Dove is featured in a wide-ranging article in the national publication University Business titled: How colleges can help get a divided nation talking again; Eastern Michigan is one of many institutions providing forums for discussion on polarizing social issues to help students, the public gain an understanding of the other side.
  • Rema Reynolds (Vassar), assistant professor of Leadership and Counseling, was elected to the Board of Trustees at Michigan State University.
  • Caroline Sanders, assistant director of community relations and engagement, was elected as a County Commissioner for Washtenaw County.
  • David Victor, a professor of management and international business, won a major lifetime achievement award from the Association for Business Communication (ABC). Since its founding in 1935, ABC has grown into the premier international business communication organization. Dr. Victor was honored with its Award of Merit. Full details, including comments from College of Business Dean Ken Lord, can be found in the EMU Today story.
  • Stephanie Wladkowski , an associate professor in the Eastern Michigan University School of Social Work, and her research team of three colleagues from St. Louis have been awarded a National Institutes of Health Grant of nearly $430,000 over two years to study “The Impact of Live Discharge from Hospice on Patients & Caregivers.” You can learn more in the EMU Today feature.

All told, these accomplishments reflect an outstanding body of work across many different areas of University operations. I am extremely grateful to our faculty and staff colleagues for their hard work and for the recognition they receive in these important activities, and for the positive light it shines on the overall excellence of Eastern Michigan University.

I have several items to cover in this week’s update:

  • COVID -19 Dashboard
  • Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees
  • University Archives Launches 20/20 Project
  • New season of EMU Today TV
  • Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets


COVID -19 Dashboard

We are continuing to closely monitor positive COVID -19 tests among our campus community. It has been clear to us, with the significant increase in cases in our community, state and nation in recent weeks, that the University’s number of positive cases could increase as well. While our numbers are significantly lower than many of our peers, the latest data on the University dashboard indeed reflects a slight increase in positive cases over the past week. In the seven days ending Nov. 3, the University administered 744 tests that resulted in two positive cases, for a positivity rate of 0.27 percent. We identified a total of 23 positive cases from all sources over the same time period. Of that total, 13 were students who live off-campus and had no contact with campus prior to the time they tested positive; eight were on-campus students – defined as a student who was living on campus or had visited campus during the applicable time period prior to the time they tested positive. Two cases were reported among University employees.

Since Aug. 12, the University has administered a total of 7,456 tests that resulted in 50 positive results for a positivity rate of 0.67 percent.

It is important to note that not a single positive case in these totals is the result of a contact or exposure that took place in an EMU classroom.

The majority of our cases are directly tied to contacts or exposure that has occurred off campus, which is consistent with the experiences at other universities. As I said, this situation requires ongoing monitoring and our response and contact tracing team remains fully mobilized in this effort.

Emotional and Mental Health Support Services Available to Students and Employees

These are unprecedented times of great stress and personal challenge. As we have communicated on several occasions during the course of the pandemic, it is important that we remind one another of some of the supportive resources the University offers.

  • For students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS offers free and confidential counseling by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours and after-hours in the evenings and weekends. For additional information, visit the CAPS website or contact the office by email at emich . edu .
  • For employees: The University’s Employee Assistance Program ( EAP ) is available for expert advice and support. EAP provides free, confidential help with personal and work-related issues, 24/7. The EAP is available to employees and their family members. Information and contact information about the EAP can be found at the EMU Employee Assistance Program webpage .


University Archives Launches 20/20 Project

Eastern Michigan University Archives is embarking on a special 20/20 Project, inviting the EMU community to contribute any materials to assist in documenting the coronavirus pandemic, the political turmoil and racial unrest of 2020.

Official communications regarding the events of this year will, of course, be collected, but the EMU Archives wishes to ensure that the personal, day-to-day stories and experiences of the EMU community are preserved as well.

EMU students, faculty, staff and alumni are being asked to submit content of any format. This can include recorded Zoom meetings, photography and video (phone or otherwise), journal entries, original poetry, school assignments, reactions to decisions made on and off campus, and all other representations of 2020. All of these are welcome additions to the Archives’ 20/20 Project.

You can submit your 20/20 materials for preservation at this special project website link.

Further details about the 20/20 Project can be found on EMU Today.

Swoop’s Food Pantry Update/Thanksgiving Baskets

The fall hours for the John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room are Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 p.m.

Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.

If you wish to donate items, those most needed are granola bars, small packages of snacks, hot sauce, barbecue sauce and rice.

Please email swoops_pantry@ in advance to make sure someone is present to handle your delivery.

Please maintain physical distancing guidance when picking up or delivering items to the Pantry.

Swoop's has had a great initial response to its sixth annual Thanksgiving Basket drive! The goal is to provide 50 Thanksgiving Baskets to students. Individuals who wish to donate items can visit Swoop’s Food Pantry Thanksgiving Baskets 2020.

Fourth Season of EMU Today TV Begins

The first episode of the fourth season of EMU Today TV was introduced earlier today. The production of EMU Today TV is a collaboration of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts, the College of Business, and University Communications.

The first episode of the new season focuses on the University’s response to COVID -19. I am pleased to be a guest on the 30-minute program, along with Professor Chris Gellasch , a geologist with a focus on groundwater and water quality. Dr. Gellasch is an associate professor of Hydrogeology , Hydrology and Environmental Science. He served previously as a U.S. Army Environmental Science and Engineering Officer, and received his undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University. He is actively involved in the University’s wastewater testing process to identify the prevalence of COVID -19 in University residence halls.

You can watch Season Four, Episode One, on the YouTube link.

Mark S. Lee is the host of EMU Today TV. Lee is an Eastern Michigan University alumnus, and a part-time lecturer of marketing at Eastern. He is an entrepreneur, Crain's Detroit blogger and frequent contributor to various Detroit-area media outlets on business topics.

Further details about the production and how to view it on Xfinity OnDemand can be found in the news release .

Health and safety reminder

As I do each week, I will conclude with an important health and safety reminder. Please continue to:

  • Practice effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers ;
  • Wear face coverings; and,
  • Observe physical distancing.

These three actions, when taken together, dramatically reduce the risk of contracting COVID -19.

Please continue to follow the University’s COVID -19 Planning and Preparedness website for ongoing updates.

James Smith, Ph .D.