Increase in Lab Density to 45%

July 17, 2020

A message from Dr. Kunkel

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier today, Rebecca Cunningham, U-M Vice President for Research, announced that beginning July 20, the density of personnel in our wet labs can increase from the 30% COVID level that we have today to 45% per shift, while maintaining social distancing. Keep in mind that this change is predicated on the state remaining in the current Phase 4 status. Additionally, a more liberal intermixing of shifts will be permissible, with teams being allowed to swap personnel between shifts where needed.

With our international reputation for educational and research excellence, we recognize learners are an essential and valued component of the Medical School research enterprise. We have been working closely with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to enable public-health informed, laboratory-based research rotations this fall. More guidance on this process will be shared next week. In the meantime, please remember to account for PIBS and Master’s students or other learners in your personnel increase to 45%.

As announced earlier this month, human research is reactivating in four Activation Tiers, with studies in Tiers 0, 1, and 2 now resuming.  Remember, all human research work that can be done remotely should continue to do so.

I want to acknowledge and thank an important and essential part of our research enterprise, our dry laboratory, analysis, computational, and policy-related researchers. These individuals continue to work remotely, contributing to keeping building densities low and helping protect the health and safety of our U-M and broader communities.

UMOR developed a Research Activation Map showing how U-M research reactivation relates to the phases of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. Also, CLICK HERE to view a spreadsheet that outlines, by PI, how many personnel are allowed in each lab during each phase of the governor’s plan. These resources will help you plan during these continuing uncertain times, enabling more rapid communication and responsiveness should the state advance to Phase 5 or regress due to increased COVID transmissions in the state. 

Like some of you, since mid-June I have been back in my lab at BSRB. When I enter the building, I’m wearing a mask, I show the greeters the health screening tool on my phone, and have my temperature taken. This routine is repeated by hundreds of others throughout our research facilities, and we are able to continue to do so because everyone is committed to the safety of our colleagues and the compliant operations of our labs in these challenging conditions.  Across the country and in our own state, we are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19. Yet in her message, Dr. Cunningham noted there have been ZERO researchers who have returned to work at U-M and then tested positive for COVID. This is thanks to your diligence and your dedication, for which I continue to be extremely grateful.

Best regards,

Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Dean for Research, Medical School
Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research