Speeches & Commentary

WashU Response to COVID-19

Sunset behind Brookings Hall

Friends and colleagues, we are doing our best to keep the community informed of the situation. As we navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead, please know that my thoughts will continue to be with those impacted.  We will also continue to provide updates as circumstances evolve. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support as well as utilize the resources we have in place. I’m extremely grateful for each and every member of our community and the contributions you make to advance our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good. May we continue to embody that mission during this time and through our daily interactions and encounters, which serve to enrich both our human experience and our tradition of distinction.

From the April 2, 2020 message to the Medical Campus community:
“It is the most extraordinary thing to watch all of you, our faculty, staff, and students, harness your ingenuity and drive to meet this enormous challenge. And it is that same ingenuity and drive that will lead us through even greater challenges over the coming weeks.”

From the March 30, 2020 message to faculty and staff:
“It’s important for us to be forward-thinking and take reasonable steps to protect our financial security. With this goal in mind, as well as awareness of the challenges of on-boarding new employees during alternate operations, effective immediately we are instituting a hiring freeze for the Danforth Campus and the Central Fiscal Unit (CFU).”

From the March 25, 2020 message to the Medical Campus community:
“We are home to many of the brightest minds and the strongest spirits in medicine. We are rising to this unprecedented occasion with the same qualities we bring to every challenge: courage, intelligence, expertise, and compassion.”

From the March 23, 2020 message to the university community, alumni and friends:
“As we all are settling into this new phase of our lives, it’s a good time to take stock of where we are as a university community, and how we got here. Over the past two weeks, we’ve responded to the evolving situation in some rather astounding ways.”

From the March 20, 2020 message to the WashU community:
“No later than Monday, March 23 – or sooner, for those departments that have been able to make the switch quickly – we do not want anyone on campus, other than employees who are required to perform essential work that requires a physical presence on campus.”

From the March 18, 2020 message to the WashU community:
“I’ve learned within the past 24 hours that four members of our university community have tested positive for COVID-19. While this news is certainly troubling, and we are concerned for our employees and students, it is not entirely unexpected that we would have cases confirmed in our community.”

From the March 17, 2020 message to WashU faculty and staff:
“Yesterday I shared the incredibly disappointing news with our graduating students that we have made the difficult decision to cancel May Commencement, given the risk to our community as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.”

Video message to the Class of 2020:
“This is, indeed, an extraordinary time, and we must continue to pull together and harness our collective strength in service of the greater good as we work quickly and diligently to flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
See the full March 16, 2020 message to the Class of 2020.

From the March 16, 2020 message to WashU faculty and staff:
“Our primary responsibilities at this time are to take care of ourselves, support our families, do all we can to slow the spread of the disease, and help the university maintain its essential role. In order to help us meet our responsibilities, the university is taking a set of major steps.”

From the March 13, 2020 message to WashU faculty and staff:
“It’s been a highly unusual week to say the least, and I hope you’re faring well during this unprecedented time as we navigate the daily turns of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. As you’ve heard us say many times these past few weeks, our highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of not only our Washington University community, but the entire St. Louis community. Together we can contribute to “flattening the curve” of the spread of this virus across the country.”

From the March 11, 2020 message to the WashU community:
This is increasingly becoming a rather extraordinary time for us here at Washington University and in the St. Louis region. We’ve been giving a lot of thought to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in recent days, reflecting on the many ways it’s impacting our daily lives and, importantly, how we can best prepare for the days and weeks ahead to keep our community healthy and safe.”

From the March 9, 2020 message to the WashU community:
“As we’ve shared with you in recent days and weeks, we are closely monitoring the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the situation continues to develop. We’re committed to providing you with the latest university updates and information, and will continue to do so. At this time, I also want to make you aware that, given the way the virus has spread globally and within the U.S. in the last few days, we are ramping up our response and putting new policies in place to protect our university community.”

From the February 13, 2020 message to the WashU community:
“At this time, I want to reassure our community that we have no cases of COVID-19 in or around the St Louis area. Further, the CDC indicates that the general public are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, and the immediate health risk is considered low at this time. We currently have faculty and staff on both Danforth and Medical campuses monitoring the situation and making recommendations.”

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