Dean Lairmore's weekly COVID-19 update – April 27, 2020
To the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine community:
As we have observed the nation is eager to reopen and get back to business. Similarly, our people and programs are eager to get back to fulfilling our mission. We will be guided by State of California and Regional Public Health Guidelines, along with campus directives as we plan to resume our activities. Our faculty continue to engage in COVID-19 related research activities, such as the tracker that Professor Chris Barker created. The tracker illustrates that California has started to “flatten the curve,” and that we are also national leaders in how few cases we’ve had as a total population. The state has followed the science in its decisions, which has paid off.
While I know that we are all feeling “COVID Fever,” for everyone’s sake we will continue to make scientifically informed decisions to ensure that we stay at the forefront of public safety. The hospital is one example of this—they have been continuously evaluating safety and service decisions and—like the medical center—are rolling out an increase in services, starting on May 4, and will be communicating with services this week about a proposed plan. I have full confidence that they will take all necessary precautions to ensure that this increase occurs safely for our personnel and clients.
Our veterinarians, research scientists, and staff have been very active in the national discussion regarding the pandemic. We’ve seen media hits from virtually every major news source, including the BBC, NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Smithsonian, and many, many others.
This epidemic has proven the importance of pandemic prevention, scientific research, and veterinarians’ essential roles in it, but it has also validated the One Health approach itself. As Dr. Kreuder-Johnson’s recent study shows, we are living in an increasingly interconnected world that requires holistic solutions for everyone’s health. It’s critical that veterinarians be given the platform to share their important knowledge and be influential in the discussions.
There has been a lot of concern recently of interspecies transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which flared again last week with news that two cats tested positive for COVID-19. These cases are rare, and there is no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans. Our coronavirus resources page continues to be current with information for veterinarians and pet owners on the situation.
Livestock have pandemics, too, and the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) announced last week that it has been awarded a $560k grant from the USDA National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) to develop a collaborative partnership between the university, federal agencies, state agencies, and animal agriculture industry to increase preparedness on dairy farms and poultry raising facilities.
In addition, Dr. Patricia Pesavento was selected to receive a seed grant from the COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track Program. This program, funded by contributions from Office of Research, the Provost, University of California Office of the President, and Veterinary Medicine, ensures that we have the resources to react quickly to this crisis while still maintaining scientific review and rigor.
I want to close today by thanking the Flying Needles Quilt Guild for making masks for our team at the hospital. The idea came from a guild member, Linda Kent, who happens to be Dr. Michael Kent’s mother! She has previously donated quilted artwork that hangs in one of our clinical facilities. For this project, she recruited a group of 100 people in the guild to make cloth masks for our veterinary staff, as supplies of personal protective equipment nationwide become difficult to obtain. The guild routinely performs community service projects, such as help with hospice centers and aid during wildfire season. We thank them for helping to keep our team safe while they continue to care for the community’s animals and families. It is another reminder how important a strong community is in times of crisis.
Michael D. Lairmore
Dean and Distinguished Professor