Increase in Lab Density to 60% and Other Reactivation Changes

September 30, 2020

A message from Dr. Kunkel...

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier today, Rebecca Cunningham, U-M Vice President for Research, announced that beginning next Monday, October 5, the density of personnel in our wet labs can increase from the 45% COVID level that we have today to 60% per shift, while maintaining the implementation of existing policies such as mandatory masks and social distancing. With this change, keep in mind that a lab’s density can only increase as much as social distancing will allow. Please remember that all work that can occur remotely should continue to be done in that manner[GT1]. 

In addition to this change in density for our wet labs, Dr. Cunningham also announced that certain restrictions making some clinical research studies Tier 3 will be lifted, thus allowing some current Tier 3 studies to be reclassified as Tier 2. Age will no longer be considered a risk factor resulting in a Tier 3 categorization, and ten or more contacts per day will no longer result in a Tier 3 categorization.

And finally, undergraduates of all ranks (First Year – Seniors) will be permitted in research laboratories per the discretion of the PI starting Monday, October 12. Undergraduates will be required to follow all safety guidelines, and will count in the total density for the laboratory.

The impact of the changes described above will be evaluated after a month. Please remember the guidance is fluid and may continue to progress or retract based on COVID-19's uncertain impact this fall/winter. As always, visit the UMOR Research Re-engagement and UMMS Research Operations websites for the latest information.

A few weeks ago, we hit a sobering milestone – six months have passed since the COVID crisis first hit home here at U-M, and we announced the “ramp down” of research operations. Since then, each month–sometimes even each day–has brought changes that have required flexibility and understanding from all of us. Not only are we subject to the pressures of our own research and the Economic Recovery, we all share in the anxieties caused by societal forces affecting the entire country. I continue to applaud you for your resilience, for which you have my deepest appreciation.

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