Dean Lairmore's weekly COVID-19 update – April 6, 2020

Dean Michael D. Lairmore

To the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine community:

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” — Aristotle

As we enter another week, I want to thank you for your continued flexibility and patience. The disruptions and tragic consequences of the pandemic to our society and the global community are unprecedented. We are learning daily how to interact and perform our jobs in new ways to protect our safety, yet continue to move forward.

I am inspired by how the academic transition is happening. We are adjusting our educational delivery to meet the requirements of our students to become trained veterinary professionals. In the past week, we saw 30 different hands-on clinical rotations reimagined into distance learning ‘virtual’ training experiences. In addition, our staff have completed 149 clinical skills training kits for our third-year students to use at home, and supported new lecture and exam delivery options.

Our Office of Research and Graduate Studies is proactively assisting graduate students and their advisors to safety complete our student’s research projects and fulfill their educational degree requirements.

These quick adjustments are a testament to our faculty, who have worked hard to maintain quality while shifting formats, our staff, who are dedicated to making it happen, and our students, who have remained positive and engaged.

We will never think the same way again about how we teach and learn, and once we return to normal, we will undoubtedly take lessons from this experience to make our curriculum and methodologies even stronger.

We are striving to bring the latest COVID-19 information through regular updates; this week we have two coronavirus informational events:

  • On Thursday from 9-10:30 a.m., the school and One Health Institute are co-hosting a town hall highlighting efforts on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response and future pandemic prevention around the world. There will be time for questions and discussion. You should have received an invite to this internal virtual event last Thursday. Spots are limited, so reserve yours now.
  • The CE office created an event for veterinarians and veterinary technicians on Wednesday featuring our chief medical officer, Dr. Jane Sykes. Called Pets, SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19: What All Veterinarians Need to Know, the webinar filled up quickly, which speaks to the demand and relevance of our knowledge on this topic. Given the interest in this event, we are exploring additional webinars in the future.

I was pleased to see the letter from President Napolitano, Chancellor May and the rest of the chancellors that they are committed to keeping the workforce employed through the end of the fiscal year, which I personally hope will get us through the most difficult portion of this crisis. I am grateful that paid emergency leave has already been granted, but I know that for some members of the community there is concern that it may not be enough. We are not the only unit in UC Davis—or all of UC—facing this, and I know that the discussion regarding the welfare of our personnel remains an ongoing concern at the highest levels.

The hospital has extended its emergency-and-critical-care-only service at least through the end of the month, in keeping with the Yolo County Shelter-in-Place Order extension. I applaud our hospital personnel for their service providing life-saving care to animals. Safety at the hospital is being continually evaluated, and procedures are being updated as needed.

Our research is at the forefront of the pandemic and continues to make an impact, including genomic research from Bart Weimer and graduate student DJ Darwin R. Bandoy of 150 SARS-CoV-2 strains. Their research could help public authorities target areas about to experience an upsurge of infection.

In addition, the One Health Institute received a $2.26 million extension of the Predict program to assist with COVID-19 pandemic emergency response. Across the school, our researchers and clinician-scientists are seeking new collaborations to understand and combat the effects of this devastating viral disease.

We are consulting with campus leaders on all major public events and expect news from the university on commencement decisions soon.

Thank you again for your dedication. These are challenging times, but if we continue to work together we will get through these troubled events to see a brighter future.

Michael D. Lairmore
Dean and Distinguished Professor

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