Dear OSU faculty, staff and students,
I know we are all proud of the progress we have made in recent years to create a more just, inclusive and supportive university community. The COVID-19 pandemic represents a serious and real-time test for each of us regarding our commitment to collaborative community progress and support for each other.
While many in our state, nation and world are at serious health risk, I recognize that each of us is being inconvenienced in multiple ways.
As community members and as a university, I ask that each of us do our part to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the university announced significant social distancing measures to substantially reduce interactions among people that might result in the spread of the virus. We are not closing our university at this time. It remains open. At the same time, we ask that our students and employees remain within their university community and not travel over spring break to decrease community spread of the virus locally, in our state or nationwide.
Limits on non-essential travel, work-related travel, elimination of athletic events, competitions, musical and theater productions, receptions and celebratory gatherings and even possible self-quarantines are turning our lives upside down. Yet, we must remember that by each of us committing to these actions, we can actually relieve suffering and the risk of death among the most vulnerable members of our community, who are more susceptible to COVID-19. This includes individuals who are older and those with health issues.
Unfortunately, we have no credible data at this time on the rapid spread of COVID-19, and there have been limited test kits available to date to confirm whether or not someone has the coronavirus. Therefore, at this time, we do not know accurately the extent or the rate of growth of infections. We do know that there are approximately 1 million hospital beds in the United States and the majority are being used every day. Lacking critical information, we do not know if access to healthcare facilities and to healthcare personnel will be overwhelmed by this pandemic. If that happens, extremely ill patients will not get the immediate attention they need.
Each of us can do our part by following personal healthcare instructions, following OSU’s guidelines and observing restrictions on social interactions to help flatten out the growth curve of infected members of our community. Flattening out the COVID-19 infection growth curve will reduce the risk that a growth in the number of infections among us will overwhelm the healthcare system
This is a real time opportunity for each of us to show that we are willing to be inconvenienced, disappointed and self-quarantined, if necessary, for that sake of those in our community who are most susceptible to this virus. Please join me in demonstrating how much we care about their health and safety. Please do all that you can to ensure that we do not fail this test.
Please take note of OSU communications on how OSU will continue to maintain operations by making adjustments in how classes, research, Extension and other programs and services are made available. I urge you to check the OSU COVID-19 website regularly for the latest updates.
I deeply believe in each of you and the power of all of us to make a positive difference in this difficult time.
Edward J. Ray