Presidential Perspective - August 26, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
You may have seen Waco Mayor Dillon Meek's quote yesterday that our local healthcare system is near "the brink of collapse" due to COVID-19. As I participated in a call with our community leaders yesterday morning, it has become clear - the local hospital situation is indeed dire. As of Wednesday morning, all 54 intensive care unit beds in McLennan County were in use, with 45 being filled by COVID-19 patients. Health officials reported that 92.4% of the currently hospitalized patients were unvaccinated.
I am so appreciative of everyone who has rolled up their sleeves and received the COVID-19 vaccination, not only for yourself but for demonstrating our caring community toward others. Since last Friday, we have had well over 1,000 vaccination records submitted to the Baylor Health Center. Baylor's vaccination rate now stands at 70% overall, including 67% for students and 83% for faculty and staff, compared to about 45% in the community.
Granted, we still have a ways to go, and we are doing everything we can to make the vaccination process on our campus as convenient as possible for everyone. With the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine earlier this week, for those 16 years of age and older, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., said: "While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product."
Vaccinations - more than face coverings, social distancing, or any other mitigation effort - continue to be our No. 1 weapon against COVID-19. Again, everything you need to know can be found at www.baylor.edu/vaccine. Let's keep moving our vaccination numbers higher, Bears!
Additional updates for this week:
- Allow me to personally thank the members of our Health Management Team who continue to provide daily COVID-19 guidance to our campus community and thoughtful, science-based recommendations for consideration by the President's Council. These decisions are extremely complex and challenging, as COVID-19 unfortunately has become a divisive, politically charged issue in our country. Baylor's HMT includes health and medical experts, faculty members, student life and human resources professionals, and several administrators, as well as the outside experts from Accountable Health, which is advising colleges and universities, businesses and organizations nationwide. The HMT's various backgrounds and expertise allow us to make the best decisions for Baylor in an uncertain environment.
- Each day by 3 p.m. we update the University's public COVID-19 Dashboard, where you can find the latest information about Baylor's active case counts and vaccination rates. In comparison to last fall, this semester is off to a good start in terms of active COVID-19 cases, but we are monitoring the data closely as our twice weekly testing regimen for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff ramps up.
- Two final COVID-19 reminders: 1) We have a temporary facemask requirement for all students, faculty and staff in all classrooms and labs when used for academic instruction; and 2) Be sure to have a facemask with you at all times in the event it may be needed or required.
- If you've strolled through the historic part of campus this week, you may have noticed new signage titled "Moving Forward as the Baylor Family" as well as QR codes placed adjacent to several statues and monuments. These QR codes will direct users to several elements of Baylor's complete history as a result of the work of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations that reviewed the University's historical record and context of its early leaders related to statues, monuments, buildings and other areas of campus. This is an interim, but important step forward as we continue reckoning with our past and considering the Commission's thoughtful recommendations.
- I hope to see you Saturday at McLane Stadium for Baylor's annual Meet the Bears event. The free gathering is scheduled from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and will feature student-athletes from Baylor football and several of our 19 intercollegiate athletics teams. You will have the opportunity to meet and get autographs from student-athletes and coaches, along with Bruiser and Marigold. Family activities include inflatable games, face painting and photo opportunities.
I've enjoyed meeting so many of you at events and activities throughout the week, including the ribbon-cutting of the historic Tidwell Bible Building that houses the departments of Religion, History and Sociology. The renovations are beautiful as the building's distinct architectural elements were preserved, including the precious stained glass. I encourage you to drop by and walk through this significant building to Baylor and our Christian mission.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.