September 30, 2021
Dear SMU community,
I would like to share another snapshot of our COVID-19 trends on campus as we head into October and toward fall break. We continue to see a steady decline in cases at SMU, Dallas County and other counties in the metro area. As members of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) monitoring this data each week, we recognize that continuing regular responsibilities while managing the challenges of the ongoing pandemic can be stressful and exhausting; we feel it as well. Through this message, it is my intent to bring perspective to our current situation. If you click through the various options on our Mustang Strong dashboard, you’ll find much of this information but I wanted to call your attention to some specifics.
The dashboard measures all known cases reported in the campus community including those from the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center, Dallas County and other University reporting methods. As of our most recent posting, we have a total of 26 active cases (19 students, 7 employees) with two people in quarantine and zero students in on-campus isolation. That’s down from last Wednesday’s 67 active cases and the semester high of 140 cases earlier this month. The daily new cases remain in the single digits.
Since the pandemic began, our campus has seen this trend of an initial case increase during the first few weeks of a semester followed by a fairly rapid drop. It is worth noting that this semester, with a return to regular activities, we did not see a spike following heavily attended events such as football games or Family Weekend.
The number of positive cases in Dallas County is also declining. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county have decreased by 21% over the past two weeks and according to the latest forecast from UT Southwestern Medical Center, they’re expected to fall steeply by mid-October.
The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center continues to offer vaccinations as well as consolidate and verify vaccine records for the campus community. While we believe the total numbers are higher, so far 70% of faculty, almost 62% of staff and more than 65% of on-campus residents have reported receiving the vaccine. Please consider uploading your vaccination card to the health portal so we have a complete picture of our total vaccination status.
The health center also continues to provide COVID-19 testing for students. Of the 50 individuals tested this week, only one identified as positive. Our medical staff confirmed that some students coming to the health center with COVID-like symptoms actually have other respiratory illnesses. Please also keep in mind that some individuals may be using over-the-counter at-home tests and should continue to report any positive cases to the University. Students cases should be reported via the CCC form and employees should report via the faculty/staff reporting form.
Assessment tool/operational level
Most of you know the EOC uses an assessment tool to measure the virus’s impact on our population and operations. The assessment considers numerous factors including the infection rates for SMU and the county, COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities, vaccinations rates, isolation capacity and availability of testing and medical materials. The assessment tool informs leadership when determining the University’s pandemic responses. Our current operational level is well into the low range with a score similar to where we were in early summer.
Armed with this information, it is my hope that you enjoy many of the activities planned for Homecoming this weekend. As our campus welcomes old friends, families and classmates from around the country, please remember to follow our COVID-19 safety protocols, including the temporary indoor mask requirement. Help keep our campus Mustang Strong.
Leigh Ann Moffett
Associate Vice President and Chief Risk Officer
COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center Leader