Mask policy tightens as COVID-19 cases rise

May 20, 2022

Image with caption: UNMC is updating its masking guidance due to a rise in COVID-19 transmission across the state and a sharp increase in the positivity rate for UNMC asymptomatic saliva PCR tests done on the med center campus.

UNMC is updating its masking guidance due to a rise in COVID-19 transmission across the state and a sharp increase in the positivity rate for UNMC asymptomatic saliva PCR tests done on the med center campus.

Effective Monday, May 23, masks must be worn in all areas on the UNMC campus.

UNMC is updating its masking guidance due to a rise in COVID-19 transmission across the state and a sharp increase in the positivity rate for UNMC asymptomatic saliva PCR tests done on the med center campus.

In late April, campus testing yielded a positivity rate of 0.8%. By early May, that had climbed to 9.2%, and mirrors increased positivity rates seen across the state and country.

"The safety of our faculty, staff and students continues to be our north star," said Jane Meza, PhD, interim executive director for health security for UNMC. "Based on current data, these steps are important to protect our mission-critical work."

Nebraska Medicine updated its mask guidance on May 20, noting an increase in both community transmission rates and employee absenteeism.

Effective May 23:

  • Procedural masks (surgical, N95s, KN95s) are required for all UNMC students, staff, faculty and visitors in:

    • Public, common and patient-facing areas across all UNMC campuses. Public and common areas include but are not limited to: Clinics, hallways, elevators, atrium spaces, bathrooms, lounges, open areas in McGoogan Library and dining areas (except while eating); and
    • Non-clinical, non-public areas, including classrooms, and shared office spaces, break rooms, cubicles and conference rooms.
    • All research laboratories, instrument rooms and other support spaces unless they are the only one in that space. Some cores may require masks for all those in the core regardless of the number of users.

  • Although masks are encouraged in all settings, they are not required when alone in an office or room with a closed door, in individual library study rooms, or when eating indoors or outdoors

  • For conference rooms and auditoria, individuals can unmask if the number in the room is 40% or less of the room capacity and all individuals are socially distanced. Socially distanced room capacities for some rooms are available online.

  • Procedural masks are required in all areas of Nebraska Medicine, including patient-facing and public areas, as well as such nonclinical, nonpublic areas as office spaces, break rooms, cubicles and conference rooms.

  • Masks are required for individuals who have an approved exemption to the vaccine policy. They also may be worn by individuals who are immunocompromised and/or at higher risk of severe disease, as well as those who are more comfortable masking or choose to do so for any other reason.

  • Campus administrators may provide additional restrictions for research specific activities and other unique spaces.

The campus community is strongly encouraged to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily using the 1-Check UNMC app and get their vaccine boosters as recommended by the CDC.

If you are having symptoms of COVID-19 or flu, stay home and call Employee Health at 402-552-3563 or the Student Health clinic serving your campus.

As a reminder, the most up-to-date campus guidance regarding COVID-19 impacts on university operations can be found on the UNMC Coronavirus Resources site.

International Travel

UNMC is returning to pre-COVID-19 operations for processing international travel requests for faculty, staff and students on university-sponsored business.

Faculty and staff must submit a travel request in Concur prior to booking travel. Students should notify Education Abroad of their intent to travel.

UNMC, as a part of the University of Nebraska system, adheres to the policy outlined in Executive Memorandum No. 25 and requires prior approval for international travel to higher risk locations (as identified by the CDC and U.S. Department of State travel notices and advisories). Travelers will be notified after they submit their Concur travel request if their destination is considered higher risk and additional information is needed.

For any university-sponsored international travel, the following process takes place:

  • Faculty/staff submits their travel request in Concur. Students notify Education Abroad of their intent to travel.
  • Following supervisor and financial approvals, the Office of Global Engagement (OGE) will conduct an initial risk assessment and will inform the traveler if their destination is considered higher risk.
  • Informed travelers submit an online travel petition to be reviewed by the UNMC International Travel Review Committee.
  • After review, OGE will forward the petition to the Chancellor’s Office with a "recommended" or "not recommended" classification.
  • Chancellor approves or denies the petition and cleared travel will receive final approval through Concur. Students will receive an approval notification through Education Abroad.

For more information and resources, visit the OGE travel website or email internationaltravelunmc@unmc.edu.

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