Sent on behalf of the Continuity of Operations Task Force
Our community is in the midst of the previously projected winter surge. COVID cases are increasing from community spread. Fortunately, for EVMS, the Thanksgiving break resulted in only a handful of additional positive cases. The coming holidays will likely result in more cases, but that can clearly be moderated by limiting travel and gatherings with family and friends and by following the masking and social distancing protocols that have served us well so far.
We continue to strictly limit community engagement activities as a safety measure. We have allowed a very few outreach activities where we determined our safety protocols could be enforced and contact with community members could be minimized. One recent example was a Blood Drive managed by CHKD and conducted in Lester Hall that involved 84 donors who provided much needed units of blood to community members.
We conducted a survey of students and employees concerning their willingness to take one of the COVID vaccinations. Approximately 800 folks responded, of whom 85% indicated an interest in receiving the vaccines. The initial shipment of vaccines has been received by Sentara and is being distributed to those clinicians in high risk settings. The vaccine distribution program will slowly expand over the next three to four months and will proceed from highest risk to lowest risk employees and students. As of today, EVMS itself has received NO vaccines and only 480,000 vaccines have been made available to the Commonwealth of Virginia at this time. EVMS is obligated to follow CDC’s guidance about distribution and priorities for receiving the vaccines. As the process evolves, we will share additional information. We have to be patient and understand that the vaccination program will roll out in phases between now and the summer of 2021.
Some of our faculty and students have indicated a willingness to volunteer during this public health emergency. We appreciate that willingness to serve. One current opportunity involves the upcoming COVID‑19 vaccination campaign that will require a robust vaccination workforce. To become a part of that workforce, you must register with the VDH Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).
As an MRC COVID vaccine volunteer, volunteers will serve in their community when available. MRC volunteers will have liability protection through the Commonwealth (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/mrc/legal/). In addition to providing the COVID-19 vaccine, an MRC emergency volunteer also has the opportunity to participate in other vital missions. Since February, MRC volunteers have worked over 110,000 hours in support of COVID-19 testing, outbreak investigation, contact tracing, public information, and medical surge response in long‑term care facilities.
Learn more about the Virginia MRC at www.vamrc.org. To sign up, complete the online application in our Virginia Volunteer Health System.
Thanks to everyone in the EVMS community for helping us manage our way through this pandemic.
Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season!