Dear faculty, staff, students and residents:
On Tuesday afternoon we learned Texas will be lifting its state mask mandate as well as lifting business occupancy limits effective March 10.
Organizations, retailers, restaurants, sporting organizations, churches and schools are now interpreting what this means for their respective populations and how they will handle for their employees as well as their patrons. Approaches will vary and will differ city to city, place to place.
Our fight against COVID-19 at UT Health San Antonio will remain consistent. As essential workers who serve patients every day – many of whom are among the sickest in our community – we must always prioritize safety. We will continue with our current safety protocols and require masks on campus for employees, students and visitors. We will continue to require temperature screenings upon entry to campus buildings and maintain our disinfection protocols.
We serve as the region’s expert and advocate in how prevention strategies (masking, handwashing, personal distancing) have been most effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic is far from over and we should not let our guard down now. As a health institution that exists to care for and protect the health of our community, and train the next generation of health care workers, it is our responsibility to take actions that we know through science help reduce the spread of this disease.
Spring break arrives next week and likely will include travel for an unvaccinated population. Easter is right around the corner, so please remain vigilant about personal prevention measures. We do not want a repeat of last year’s activities that amplified transmission. We must do everything we can to limit a resurgence of this virus that has killed more than 43,000 people in Texas so far.
UT Health San Antonio continues our vital work of vaccinating thousands of San Antonians each week to try to attain herd immunity levels: so far, we have given over 61,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that are safe, effective and working. We are developing a mobile health unit to serve our hardest-to-reach community members. Experts at our university are studying viral variants and the rising prevalence of some strains. Infectious disease teams are rapidly preparing to study sequencing with detailed epidemiological analysis to investigate associated SARS-CoV-2 infections and inform infection control measures, as well as continually evaluate the immunity of COVID-19 and how long it may last.
Our faculty members continue to serve on citywide committees that advise city and county officials and will continue serving in those roles.
Let’s continue to do all we can together to defeat COVID-19. Encourage everyone to get a vaccine when able, wear your mask, maintain hand hygiene and keep a safe personal distance.
William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP
President and Professor of Medicine