Dear RMBL Community,
Like most other places in the US, RMBL has been experiencing regular reports of covid-19. Because of the need to maintain privacy we will not be reporting incident rates. However, once we go a full week without any new reported cases, we will let you know. We have previously communicated that because we are at capacity we have limited opportunities to isolate people. That will continue to be true.
We are considering at least temporarily moving back to masking requirements for the serving area in the dining hall, large gatherings in the dining hall (e.g., seminars), at least temporarily, and for shared labs. If you have feedback on what RMBL should do, please email me your thoughts by Thursday, June 17, 2 pm Mountain Time. If you can catch me I am happy to talk in person but may be elusive.
To help frame the discussion, here are the things we are thinking about:
- We are presumably moving into the endemic stage of the disease.
- Hospitalization and mortality rates appear to be much lower than in previous outbreaks.
- Long covid is still not well understood and could be generating long-standing negative health outcomes among a large part of the population.
- Even with high vaccination rates and improved medical outcomes associated with infection, there are individuals that remain highly susceptible to bad short-term outcomes.
- There are currently large differences in behavioral norms around masking within the United States.
- Even in relatively homogeneous areas, behavioral norms around managing risks and mask wearing have not emerged.
- The relationship between short-term strategies and long-term health outcomes appears complicated.
- At RMBL and more broadly in society we have seen a noticeable increase in mental health issues, which seems to be exacerbated by social isolation, loss of family and friends including to covid, and general disruption.
- Online options for seminars and talks in the dining hall, allowing people to control their level of risk.
- Some people are unable to control their risk because they must use the serving area; RMBL does not have the capacity for everybody to cook their own meals.
We are considering the following decision points, though feel free to suggest other issues or strategies for managing risk.
- Requiring masks at seminars and large meetings in the dining hall, or asking that people who are concerned participate online.
- Requiring masks in the serving area of the dining hall, or requiring use of masks in the serving area for the first 15 minutes of meal serving, or not requiring masks at all.
- Requiring masks in shared labs, or requiring masks in shared labs upon request, or not requiring masks at all.
If you do think we should impose additional masking restrictions, thoughts on how long those should remain in place would be appreciated (e.g., all summer, until cases drop nationally/CO/CB/Gothic).
Thanks for your feedback!