Over the course of the past year, we have worked together to fight the worst pandemic in our lifetime. It has—and continues to be—a monumental undertaking that has demonstrated UTMB’s strength in dealing with a public health crisis. Much work remains to be done, but we should all feel very proud of what we have accomplished thus far in all of our mission areas.
As you have no doubt seen in the news, effective March 10, Governor Greg Abbott is rescinding state executive orders related to the pandemic, including the requirement to wear masks in public. Businesses will continue to have the option to require masks for employees and customers after that date.
In consultation with our infection control, clinical and research experts who have been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and in keeping with recommendations from public health officials, UTMB leadership has decided that our current masking policy will remain in effect at all UTMB locations to protect the health of the university community and everyone we serve. In brief, all faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors must wear a mask covering their mouth and nose in public areas and all clinical areas.
Governor Abbott’s announcement stressed the importance of personal responsibility to contain COVID-19. We strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing individual safety measures while away from UTMB facilities. Wear a mask. Socially distance. Wash/sanitize hands frequently. Stay home if you are ill. And get the COVID vaccine when you are invited to do so.
If you are an employee who qualifies as Phase 1A (health care worker) or 1B (high risk due to age or health condition), you can schedule your vaccine at https://www.utmb.edu/covid-19/vaccine/employees (UTMB login required). If you live in or near Galveston County, please also encourage your family and friends to register for the vaccine waitlist at www.utmbhealth.com/vaccine.
While we have seen recent improvement in the number of cases and hospitalizations after several very difficult months, the pandemic is not over. We still have a significant challenge ahead of us in terms of improving vaccination rates in our region and the emerging threat of new, more easily transmitted variants of the virus that may cause more severe disease. We will not truly put the pandemic behind us until we have reached herd immunity through widespread vaccination.
Until that time, thank you for your continued efforts to protect our university and our communities by following established safety measures.