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Friday, February 26, 2021

Is UC-San Diego More Aggressive Than UCLA in Vaccinating Its Employees?

Dedicated dose supply gives UC workers a vaccination advantage

PAUL SISSON, FEB. 25, 2021, San Diego Union-Tribune

Essential workers at UC San Diego are not waiting in the same vaccination lines as their off-campus peers, university officials confirmed this week. County officials announced Wednesday that teachers, law enforcement officers, farmers and others — a group estimated to exceed 500,000 people throughout the region — can start signing up for vaccination appointments through state or county-operated scheduling systems Saturday. But similar opportunities have already been afforded to UCSD employees.

And, while the county warned that it will not have enough supply on hand to make much of a dent in the expected demand for doses among the droves of workers likely to to start requesting appointments this weekend, the UC system, officials confirmed in an email Tuesday, receives a vaccine allocation directly from the California Department of Public Health that “is separate from vaccine supplied by the County of San Diego for other operations.”

It was unclear Thursday afternoon exactly when the broader effort started on campus. The university did not specify the start date, but two local residents connected to the university who requested anonymity out of concerns for their continued employment said they thought the effort got going in earnest last week. One of the two said they were surprised to learn that a teacher’s assistant in their 20s had received their first dose at a time when widespread vaccination of local school teachers has not yet begun. In a statement, the university said that it has begun vaccinating “frontline essential employees,” including “emergency response personnel, housing and dining workers and other essential employees working on campus.”

The university said it is following CDPH guidelines in deciding who to vaccinate. Those guidelines do include “all staff in colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges and other postsecondary facilities.”

As an entity that is legally separate from the county where it resides, the university does have some leeway in who it decides to vaccinate and when. In a statement, the CDPH noted that it considers the University of California to be a “multi-county entity” able to receive vaccine for inoculation of its patients and employees in addition to the public. That designation has sent a significant number of doses directly to UCSD, with a statewide dashboard maintained by CDPH listing the university with 24,820 doses on hand as of Wednesday, significantly more than were listed for any other UC campus. It was unclear, though, whether all of those doses were part of the university’s allocation or whether some came from the county to supply UCSD’s super vaccination clinic near Petco Park. That facility does serve the public.

UC, however, does seem to have a leg up on its peers where vaccine supply is concerned. A representative of California State University, which operates 23 campuses statewide, confirmed in an email Thursday that its locations receive doses from their respective county public health agencies.

UCSD has made state and national headlines for its vaccination might. Working with the San Diego Padres baseball team and San Diego County, it was the first in California to set up a vaccination superstation capable of putting thousands of vaccines in arms per day. As of Wednesday, the university reported having administered 146,504 total doses, with about 120,000 at Petco. More than 40,000 first and second doses are said to have gone to UCSD health system patients with more than 20,000 firsts and seconds going to health system employees. It was not clear whether the employee numbers included non health care workers.

Since the first few thousand doses began arriving at local hospitals in December, vaccination prioritization has seemed as sensitive an issue as beach access at the La Jolla children’s pool. Health systems who have received supply to vaccinate their workers have faced significant grumbling for any doses that land outside the group that works directly with patients. Scripps Health, for example, received some backlash for vaccinating its board of directors which it said was made up either of trustees who intended to volunteer in its hospitals during the frenetic holiday surge or who were old enough to meet the 65 and over age criteria.

...But, it does appear that campus workers will continue to enjoy more immediate access to vaccine because the UC system has its own dedicated vaccine supply that is not open to all comers. Why shouldn’t university workers draw from, and wait for, the same supply as their off-campus peers with similar risk profiles? Neither the California Department of Public Health nor the University of California president’s office responded to the question this week...

Full story at https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/health/story/2021-02-25/dedicated-dose-supply-gives-uc-workers-a-vaccination-advantage

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A turnaround (maybe)

 
As blog readers will know, we have been tracking new weekly claims for unemployment insurance as an indicator of the direction of the California labor market and economy. While the national outlook generally seemed to be in the recovery direction, for several weeks the California situation seemed to be worsening, probably reflecting tightened lockdown rules. The most recent week (ending Feb. 20) suggests there may be a turnaround (improvement) in California. We'll have to see if the trend continues in the coming weeks.

The latest data are at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf

Watch the Regents' Investments Committee Meeting of 2-18-2021


The Regents' Investments Committee met last week on Feb. 18. As usual, yours truly has preserved the recording which the Regents discard after one year. The first part of the meeting was public comments by telephone. Topics discussed were fossil fuel divestment verification and a defense of the Hawaiian telescope. The second part was a review of recent financial market returns and investments.

It was the third segment that was most of interest. The Chief Investments Officer was seeking endorsement of a proposed policy for "private credit" investments. These appear to be investments by firms specializing seeking out "hot" investments in other new firms using other people's money. As is often the case, Regent Makarechian had the most critical questions, essentially involving the risk entailed. If the hot investments turn cold, it will be UC who is left holding the bag. It appeared under questioning that in fact UC had been investing in private credit all along within other categories and that the guidelines for how much of the portfolios of the various funds could hold were more or less already reached. In the end, however, the concept was approved.

The meeting can be watched at the link below:

https://archive.org/details/investments-committee-2-18-21

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Vaccine Coming (someday) - Part 2

The email below was circulated today in response to LA County's announcement that (among others) "educational" employees would be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations. 

COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force
Dear Bruin Community:
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced on Feb. 22 that colleges and universities will be allowed to ease a few of the restrictions that have been in place over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the UCLA COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force is reviewing the updated LACDPH guidance (PDF) and developing plans for a limited variety of activities and resources to resume for on-campus students and those living off campus or in the neighboring community. These changes may include reopening of libraries at limited capacity; small group academic support to be held outdoors; reopening of some performing arts studio and practice spaces; reopening of some outdoor recreation and fitness facilities for faculty, staff and students; and resumption of certain kinds of club and intramural sports practice.
Detailed information about when these operations resume will be shared with the campus community in the coming days. Please note that the new guidelines do not alter our current operations around reduced on-campus housing capacities and remote learning through the end of summer sessions.
While an easing of community and campus restrictions is a hopeful step toward recovery from the pandemic, we must double down on preventing the spread of COVID-19 by abiding by strict health and safety protocols, including maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from others, the proper use of face coverings, frequently washing our hands and avoiding large gatherings. Although the case numbers have continued to decline since the peak in January, the virus is still active in our community and continues to threaten the health and lives of our families, friends, colleagues and neighbors. We must continue to do what we can to keep one another safer.
A return to in-class learning for K-6 learners
UCLA is also preparing for a staggered return to in-class instruction for students in kindergarten through sixth grade (PDF) at the UCLA Lab School beginning March 3, with strict adherence to state and county requirements. Plans for a return of sixth grade students at the UCLA Geffen Academy are also in the works; and a date for in-class instruction at that location will soon be announced. The Lab School and Geffen Academy communities will receive separate communications about reopening details from their leadership.
Voluntary twice weekly testing for campus employees and students
UCLA continues to provide mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing to its non-Health System employees and students living, learning or working on campus. In response to employee requests for additional availability of testing, UCLA is also welcoming those who wish to be tested a second time in any given week. Just drop by any of the three testing sites for a walk-in test or schedule your second appointment online. Please note, this will not disrupt the weekly invitations for testing or messaging about test results, and you should continue to schedule at least one test each week.
Vaccination distribution expanded to education sector
LACDPH has announced that along with food and agriculture workers, first responders and law enforcement officers, vaccine distribution will be expanded to include those working in education and childcare, including employees at colleges and universities, starting March 1. Students working for UCLA on site are included in this group. In addition, individuals aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions may become eligible for vaccinations beginning March 15.
While these changes will expand access to the vaccine within our community considerably, additional changes at the state level may impact your ability to receive the vaccine through UCLA Health. We are still working with Blue Shield (the new third party administrator) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to understand how these changes may impact our ability to prioritize vaccine distribution by groups and social vulnerability index, or to directly invite eligible employees to schedule their vaccine through UCLA Health as planned. Once there is more definitive information, we will let you know. As we have mentioned previously, you should try to receive the vaccine wherever it is first available to you. Visit the CDPH My Turn website to receive a notification when vaccines are available in your area.
It is important to note that the vaccination process is expected to take some time — possibly weeks or months — as distribution remains contingent on the state’s ability to receive sufficient doses of the vaccine in a timely manner, and how those doses are distributed to UCLA Health and other vaccine providers.
COVID-19 information town halls
A COVID-19 vaccine town hall for faculty and staff was held at noon today and is now available to view on demand.
A subsequent town hall meeting for parents and families of UCLA students will be held Thursday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. Registration is open and this event will be livestreamed to the Parent & Family Association Facebook page.
For general information about vaccines, please visit UCLA Health’s COVID-19 vaccine information hub and for more information pertaining to vaccines at UCLA, please visit UCLA’s COVID-19 resources website. If you have additional questions, concerns or thoughts about UCLA’s COVID-19 response, please write to COVID19@ucla.edu.
We look forward to keeping you updated on campus developments as we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Sincerely,
Michael J. Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force
Michael Meranze
Immediate Past Chair, UCLA Academic Senate
Professor of History
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

What you've been missing...

Here's something you've missed if you haven't been recently on campus. The question is, what do you say to a robot if you encounter one? One suggestion below, although you might get carried away:

or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NZXmq-E2tM

The UC Fall Rollout

From the Daily Cal: In a conversation hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), UC President Michael Drake spoke Friday about the priorities and challenges that the University of California will aim to address in the near future. Among other topics, Drake expanded on the reopening of UC campuses in fall 2021, efforts to diversify student and faculty populations and keeping the cost of a UC education affordable for students.

“In the fall of ’21, what exactly that will look like will be determined by the behavior of the country and (COVID-19) over these next few months, but we’re hoping to be able to get classes back together in a modified fashion,” Drake said at the event. Drake said he expects in-person instruction to begin on all UC campuses in fall 2021, given that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and case numbers continue their current trends. He also expects to open dorms in a modified capacity this fall...

Full story at https://www.dailycal.org/2021/02/21/uc-president-michael-drake-discusses-university-reopening-affordability/

The PPIC conversation is at:

or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP28h0fDVb0

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Make it more suitable

Faculty and staff will have received a survey from UCLA today asking various questions about the current coronavirus environment, working from home, plans about going back on campus in fall, etc. 

Just as was the case with a survey that was supposed to be part of the vaccination process for eligible employees, the survey is largely worded for non-faculty employees. There are lots of references to "supervisors," etc., that really don't work for faculty, especially ladder faculty. 

Surely, a separate survey that focused on the faculty would have provided more insight into the current situation and the process needed to go forward. Indeed, there was no question that indicated what kind of department was involved, although there were questions about research. Faculty who depend on laboratory access are going to have different experiences than those who don't. Those in the health-related areas, particularly if they have clinical responsibilities, are going to have a different experience than others. Perhaps a more detailed questionnaire would have been helpful. Perhaps one should be designed.