Covid 19 Task Force Update

Header: Agusburg Staff. Augsburg Values. Augsburg Contract.

Dear Colleagues,

  • The COVID-19 Task Force had a meeting on Thursday, December 9th. Here are today’s meeting notes from the Augsburg Staff Union representative.
  • Minnesota Department of Health Updates:
  • There is an increasing case count in the 18-24 age range: 3,000 last week compared to 2,000/week recent trend.
  • Positivity rate and hospitalization rate have both increased in the week after Thanksgiving.
  • Delta remains the predominant variant in Minnesota, but there is a lag in the reporting of that data (about a month).
    • Omicron variant in MN, now identified in 20+ states.
    • There is probably community spread of Omicron in MN, but the extent is unclear.
    • Transmissibility and virulence still not clear.
    • Preliminary clinical information from South Africa suggests no unusual symptoms; asymptomatic infection remains possible.
  • Testing options
    • The Department of Administration has a list of testing vendors (with contract pricing) we can use.
    • State supported BinaxNOW for higher ed will continue into early next year.
    • MDH can still help with testing for surges and clusters.
    • The State will continue to operate Vault testing sites until some point that has not been determined yet; when it changes it won’t be all at once.
  • Federal mask requirement for transportation extended through March 18
  • Healthcare worker students (vaccinated) who are close contacts of a positive case may return to class but should wear a mask
  • MDH has issued a health advisory about flu on higher ed campuses
  • They urge us to communicate with students ahead of holiday and share the usual reminders
  • Preliminary survey results from 90 higher ed institutions
    • 79 percent have masking requirements
  • A COVID-19 Task force member brought up the idea of doing an on-campus event to promote boosters.
    • Student government has voiced support for doing an on-campus booster event.
    • Stephen Jendraszak will follow up with Rebecca John about this.
  • MDH will have the weekly meeting next week, then cancel the following two unless something urgent comes up.

Dashboard Update:

  • Regional case rates rose substantially in Hennepin and Ramsey counties during the week following Thanksgiving, and test positivity in both counties moved into the high range (>10%).
  • On campus: multiple new confirmed cases this week; 14-day on-campus student cases already > .5% for the period ending Saturday, 12/11. The response team is drafting an email to all students reminding them to stay home if they have symptoms.

Other Updates:

  • A COVID-19 Task force member stated that departments are requesting a restock of ‘back up’ mask supplies for next term, and they asked if we can support them. There was not a definitive answer concluded in the meeting.
  • The COVID-19 Task force discussed whether or not to meet Dec. 23 and 30. Pending approval from Rebecca John, those two meetings will be potentially canceled unless something comes up.

We set up a Google Form so Augsburg Staff Union members could state their questions or concerns to be addressed at the meeting.

Please note: Urgent questions related to COVID-19 should not be submitted via the Google Form, those questions should continue to be sent to, calling 612-474-3100, and/or by using the Augsburg self-reporting form.

The interim staff union representative will continue to send weekly updates based on information gathered in the COVID Task Force meetings and questions asked in the google form.