Modifying our safety precautions due to increased COVID-19 in the community

We are seeing an increase of local COVID-19 infections due to the higher transmission rates with the delta variant.

The good news is that we know that the vaccines are working. They are not a 100% protective shield; however, vaccines greatly reduce the severity of illness and prevent many hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

We also know that layers of safety measures offer more protection, so we are making some changes to our safety precautions, effective immediately.

Starting Monday, Aug. 16, you are encouraged to begin wearing a mask at all times, no matter the type of building in which you work.

What’s changing

Mask changes

Face masks continue to be required in all patient care areas and public spaces. Additionally, starting Monday, Aug. 16, you are encouraged to begin wearing a mask at all times, no matter the type of building in which you work.

Effective Monday, Aug. 23, face masks will be required in all areas of our patient care facilities, according to the specifications below. Masks will continue to be encouraged in all other UI Health Care locations that do not provide patient care.

  • Starting Monday, Aug. 23, in UI Health Care facilities where patients receive care (e.g., UI Hospitals & Clinics main campus, UI Health Care–Iowa River Landing, UI Community Clinics).
    • Face masks will be required at all times for all employees, no matter their vaccination status.
      • As a reminder, medical-grade masks will continue to be required during patient care activities.
      • In all other locations, including shared office locations and breakrooms, cloth masks are acceptable, and will be required effective Aug. 23.
      • The only time a mask will not be required is if you are alone in a private office. You will also be permitted to remove your mask briefly when you are eating or drinking, but you should do so separated from other colleagues.
  • Beginning today, in UI Health Care facilities where patients do not receive care (e.g., HSSB, Carver College of Medicine)
    • Face masks are encouraged for all staff, regardless of their vaccination status, and will be readily available in all facilities.

Avoid sharing food and eating together

Avoid eating together and sharing food, including individually packaged items, with your colleagues. Try to stagger your eating times to avoid crowded breakrooms and use plexiglass dividers when eating.

Reminders

  • Come to work healthy: By coming to work, you are acknowledging that you are free from COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, or cough, call the University Employee Health Clinic (UEHC) at 319-356-3631.
  • COVID-19 Vaccines are safe and effective: All employees are encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccinations are free through UEHC. Call 319-356-3631, option 3 to schedule.
  • Masks work: Wearing a mask is a key safety measure to prevent transmission of the virus, to yourself or others.
  • Meetings/gatherings: Consider using virtual meeting options like Zoom when meeting in person is not necessary. If you do meet in person, masks are required in clinical and non-clinical rooms in patient care facilities, and masks are encouraged in all other UI Health Care locations. Food should not be consumed during meetings.
For fact-based resources on COVID-19 vaccines, visit uihc.org/covid-vaccine.

What isn’t changing

Currently there is no change to our visitor restrictions or our entrances/exits.

Given the high vaccination rate amongst our UI Health Care employees, it is safe for our entire team to continue working in person. We will not be asking staff to return to remote work, and requests for remote work will not be approved until a formal remote work plan and policy is in place.