University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval, today — his second day as president — announced measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 among faculty, staff and students.
UNR is one of the community’s locations with the most positive COVID-19 cases. More than 600 cumulative cases — 581 students and 42 faculty and staff — were identified today on UNR’s new COVID-19 dashboard.
Most all of those at UNR who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered, according to the website. There are 51 active cases.
Health District Officer Kevin Dick and former UNR President Marc Johnson said off-campus gatherings by students furthered the virus’ spread.
Sandoval told UNR employees today in an email immediate measures will be taken that include the closure of the Wiegand Fitness Center, no fans at Mackay Stadium for the Oct. 24 season football opener and a new COVID-19 dashboard that shows current and total COVID-19 cases.
“Although we have done an extraordinary job of fighting the spread of the virus on campus by wearing face coverings, social distancing and using good hygiene, off-campus activities have contributed to the spike in positive cases on campus,” Sandoval said. “These shared sacrifices to defeat COVID-19 are not always pleasant or convenient, but they are necessary.”
The complete statement is below.
Dear Wolf Pack Family,
I hope this message finds you safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. I am thankful to be a part of the Wolf Pack family. Despite the University’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we have seen increases in the number of positive cases on campus, especially among students, but not many faculty and staff. Although we have done an extraordinary job of fighting the spread of the virus on campus by wearing face coverings, social distancing and using good hygiene, off-campus activities have contributed to the spike in positive cases on campus. Being part of the Wolf Pack means that we must all make sacrifices for the greater good of our community and University, not just when we are here, but everywhere we go. These shared sacrifices to defeat COVID-19 are not always pleasant or convenient, but they are necessary.
Because of the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 on campus that have affected students, faculty and staff, and to “Protect the Pack,” we have made the following difficult decisions and measures, based on our most recent public health trends:
- The E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center will be closed for the remainder of the semester as of 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. Fitness classes will continue to be offered online, the Lombardi Pool will remain open and equipment check-out, as was the case last March during the facility’s closure, will remain available.
- In accordance with the Washoe County Health Department’s maximum gathering size of 250 people, the Nevada Wolf Pack football season opener on Oct. 24 against Wyoming will be played without fans at Mackay Stadium. Attendance will be limited to family members of student-athletes and coaches.
- The University has created a new “Protect the Pack – COVID-19” dashboard that will help our University community review and contextualize important information such as testing data, active cases and positivity rates.
In order to help “trace” your own activity relative to the health of others, we strongly encourage everyone to download the State of Nevada’s helpful app, “COVID Trace.” This mobile app exchanges information via Bluetooth and is completely anonymous and protects your privacy. Once installed, the app will alert you if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and will explain your next steps to deal with this information. Download the free app to get started.
We considered many factors in making these decisions, noting especially how so many members of our Wolf Pack Family continue to make shared sacrifices in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. I know that this announcement will be a source of disappointment for many, but our decisions must be based on what is in the best interest of the collective health and safety of the Wolf Pack Family. Our number one priority is to always protect the health, safety and welfare of our campus and the community we serve. It is always our mission to “Protect the Pack.”
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.