Dear Welch Campus Family:
I just completed a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence; Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force; and many other college and university presidents. Others who took part in the discussion included Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s new Coronavirus advisor; Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota; and Dr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.
I am happy to tell you that, according to the recommendations these leaders reinforced on the call, we are doing very well on the Welch College campus, not only in the rate of people who have tested positively for the Coronavirus or are in quarantine, but also in following the best practices recommended by the White House and the CDC. This is because of the efforts you are making to follow Welch’s guidelines, and I cannot thank you enough!
One of the things they emphasized on the call, which they said many had not previously understood, is this: In addition to physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, it is vital that as many as possible students be kept on campus whether they have symptoms or not, and it is important that colleges and universities do everything in their power to keep students as close to campus as possible.
Having travel policies and other policies that make this a reality will keep down the incidence of the disease on campus, because students will not bring the disease back to campus from across the United States. However, such policies will also keep COVID-19 from going back into households and communities, thus mitigating the spread of the disease. Vice President Pence and Dr. Birx reiterated this over and over again.
They stressed the avoidance of what they called “crowding.” Avoiding crowding, maintaining a physical distance of six feet, and wearing a face covering are imperative. Also, they highly recommended that we encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine.
The incidence of the Coronavirus among adults under 25 is on the rise. Even though the health risks are lesser for this population, the risk of this age group’s infecting people in the cross-generational population who are at greater risk is growing, they said. Dr. Birx reiterated repeatedly how important it is to understand that many young people who have no symptoms still have the disease and are passing it on to others.
So I want to congratulate you for doing the very best you can to continue to maintain six-foot physical distancing, to wear your face coverings, even when you are in the dorms and in other people’s rooms, to stay in the Gallatin area, and to fill out the form on the Ascend app each morning.
I also want to thank the Mr. Mahler, Coach Fawbush, and Dr. McAffee, as well as the members of the Special Committee on the Coronavirus, for having already put into effect a plan that precisely mirrors what we were advised on today’s conference call.
Thank you for all you are doing, Welch family! If we can keep this up, we feel confident we can make it to Thanksgiving!
The Lord bless you and keep you.