Important updates on COVID-19

NEWS

Faculty sound bites — Fall 2020

UF College of Medicine faculty in the news

UF Health enrolls first patient in clinical trial aimed at creating new treatment for COVID-19

UF Health enrolls its first patient in clinical trial on Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ monoclonal antibody cocktail

UF Health study shows flu vaccination might confer protection against severe COVID-19

Study shows flu shot might confer protection against more severe cases of COVID-19

UF Health professor part of prestigious national committee advising on COVID-19 vaccine allocation

Dr. Sonja Rasmussen is part of a national committee advising on COVID-19 vaccine allocation

REOPENING THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA AND UF HEALTH SYSTEM

UF HEALTH SCREEN, TEST AND PROTECT INITIATIVE

The Screen, Test and Protect initiative uses public health guidance and best practices aimed at fostering a culture of care for our community while taking steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the University of Florida gradually returns faculty, staff and students to the campus environment.

U-F Health Screen, Test and Protect initiative

STUDENTS

Screen, Test & Protect

While all students are expected to eventually be screened as a part of our measured initiative to reopen campus, focus will be placed on students currently living on campus and having those students most involved with clinical and research activities return first. This will include the prioritization of students from the health colleges (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions, and Veterinary Medicine) who perform duties in clinical settings, and graduate students with responsibilities in research labs and other areas of our research enterprise.

Educational updates

2020 Commencement — The virtual commencement celebrations for all College of Medicine degrees will be available here on the college’s primary website. Please visit med.ufl.edu/2020-commencement to celebrate your graduation or to learn more about our graduating students,

Collegewide events — such as Celebration of Diversity Week (including the Emerald Ball and the Unity in Diversity 5K Run, Walk & Roll), Second Look and Accepted Student Weekend, Medical Education Week and the Faculty Appreciation reception — will be halted or postponed, minimizing large group activities.

Second-year students studying the STEP1: Our second-year medical students are scheduled to begin 10 weeks of independent study Monday, March 16, to prepare for their clinical skills exam.

First-year medical students and PA students will shift to online, Canvas or Zoom delivery coursework as of Monday, March 16.

For up-to-the-minute details on curriculum changes, please check with the UF College of Medicine Office of Educational Affairs.

Mental health resources

For emergencies, please call 9`11.

The UF College of Medicine Office of Student Counseling & Development is temporarily closed. For students experiencing an urgent mental health need, please contact the UF Counseling & Wellness Center at 352-392-1575 and request to speak with the on-call provider. The office is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with emergency phone-support service available after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

Additionally, you may call the following 24-hour phone hotlines:

  • Alachua County Crisis Center: 352-264-6789
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is also available via their helpline at 800-950-NAMI Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. NAMI also offers a 24-hour crisis text line — text “NAMI” to 741741.

Library services

The Health Science Center Library is closed until further notice. However, the virtual library is open and available, and library faculty and staff are here to help. The library will still provide the majority of its services remotely, including instruction, research consultations, reference services and digital interlibrary loan, as well as access to all of its digital collections, including journals, books, databases and clinical tools.

Contact reference@health.ufl.edu for reference help, instruction, consultations and other online services. You may also leave a voice message at 352-273-8408; library staff will be checking email and voicemail Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Journal articles, books, videos and other resources are available on the Health Science Center Library website.

FACULTY & STAFF

Screen, Test & Protect

All UF, University Athletic Association and extension staff and faculty, regardless of location, are required to be screened prior to coming back on campus, and testing is strongly recommended. Faculty and staff who work in health care or on campus and who have been working since the beginning of the state shelter-in-place orders are strongly encouraged to be tested but it will not impact your work schedule.

Faculty and Staff of the College of Dentistry, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, College of Public Health & Health Professions or the College of Veterinary Medicine:

  • Faculty and staff who have been working in clinical environments on the UF campus during the COVID-19 pandemic are still required to be screened, and are strongly encouraged to be tested, but the scheduling of testing will not impact your work schedule.
  • Faculty and staff who have not been working on the UF campus are strongly encouraged to be tested prior to returning to work. These plans are still being developed – we will communicate details when they are finalized.

Mental health and wellness resources

A collaborative group representing the Departments of Psychiatry and Clinical & Health Psychology; Shands Employee Assistant Program, or EAP; UF EAP; UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital; GatorCare Wellness; and the UF College of Medicine Office of Wellness Programs has developed/expanded services to promote the mental health and well-being of our workforce across the UF Health academic health center and UF Health Shands. Learn more about these services on Bridge.

Human Resources guidance

For information on working through COVID-19, including guidance on taking leave and working remotely, visit the UF Human Resources website.

Research continuity updates

May 20: UF Vice President of Research David Norton released a May 15 memo announcing the UF Research Resumption Plan, which employs a phased strategy for resuming on-campus research activities that have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UF health colleges have modified the approval workflow described in the UF Research Resumption Plan. Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D., associate vice president for research at UF Health and acting senior associate dean for research affairs at the UF College of Medicine, outlines details of this workflow — including the reentry process for approved personnel — in a memo found on the UF Health Bridge COVID-19 intranet. To help manage approval and screening volumes, the associate deans of research for each college will work with deans and chairs to invite a new wave of PIs each week to submit their Stage 1 research resumption requests. 

The initial focus is on wet-lab PIs with research activities that are critical for sponsored project and early-stage career development milestones. Until guidelines for resuming clinical research are released, the current UF Research restrictions on conducting approved human subject research during the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place.

Resources for UF Health college research teams, including a list of FAQs, can be found by logging in to the Bridge intranet

March 26: With few exceptions, animal experiments within the Animal Care Services facility will be suspended effective 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 26. Most activity should have already ramped down or ceased. See the Animal Care Services March 25 notice for more information. This suspension will remain in effect until we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

March 24: UF Vice President of Research David Norton issued an  update on the impact of COVID-19 on research activities, including assessing whether specific human subject research may continue at UF. These guidelines are for human subject research only, for use during the current COVID-19 epidemic, and will be in place until removed by the UF Vice President for Research. In addition, the UF IRB posted an update to its COVID-19 investigator guidelines

For previous communications on research updates, log into the Bridge to access this information. If you are not on the VPN, please visit http://vpn.ufhealth.org to log in.

IT resources

UF Health IT has provided resources to assist employees who may be working remotely at this time. Please visit the UF Health IT page on the Bridge to see the most up-to-date resources, including remote access instructions, tips for setting up call forwarding and collaboration tools such as Zoom, Skype and EPIC.