I'm Kerry Bringhurst. You're listening to Utah Public Radio. For over a year, we’ve spent almost every week speaking with Utah State University President Noelle Cockett to get an update on what was happening with COVID-19 on the university campuses statewide.
We have taken a few weeks off following graduation at the university and we're happy to have President Cockett join us again today for an update on what is happening. Interesting to look back and consider our conversation from a year ago.
NC: We are in such a different place this July as we were last July. I think last July we were just kind of getting our arms around masks and working remote. And now we have testing, we have vaccines, we know what can help prevent it.
NC: I have been coming in more and more, sort of that slow return to my office, and just love seeing our tours or our students. I'd say everyone's even friendlier than they were before COVID. So glad to see people walking around enjoying our beautiful campus.
KB: It certainly is great to see more people out and about. One of the changes that has happened since we spoke last was lawmakers met in a special session and voted to not allow K-12 or higher education institutions to require the wearing of masks. And the governor, Spencer Cox, agrees.
NC: That is a celebration for people who have been vaccinated. But I think all of us are fairly comfortable thinking that we won’t return to numbers like we saw last November, simply because a large number of people on campus are vaccinated, at least in conversations. Again, we don't ask people to report. The one group, though, that will need to verify whether or not they've been vaccinated are student athletes who play in the Mountain West Conference.
KB: I know you and the university have continued to send out emails or letters encouraging students to consider being vaccinated and like you said, there's no way to indicate who has or who has not been vaccinated. But do you have an idea as to why some students are choosing not to be vaccinated?
NC: We were talking this morning about some of the information that's coming out and reasons that people are not wanting to be vaccinated. Some people are concerned that the FDA has not officially approved the vaccine. Right now it's been approved by the FDA for emergency use. That allowed the vaccine to get out there much, much quicker. All of the data they've collected have indicated that it will be officially approved by FDA by the end of this calendar year.
NC: People who are hoping to become pregnant or are pregnant are sometimes cautious about getting a vaccine. And we are still doing our COVID testing daily at East Stadium. There were a couple of weeks where we had no positives. In the last couple of weeks, we've had at least one positive, sometimes two positives every day. It is still out there.
NC: Again, the message will be those two points: get vaccinated if you're willing. If you're not, wear a mask and stay home if you think you have COVID, and get tested to verify one way or the other.
KB: Well, good advice. Good reminder. It's been a while since we've had that reminder. And really nice to talk with you and get some updates on what is happening and your insight. And we look forward to speaking with you again in a few weeks.
NC: Okay. Bye.
KB: That was Utah State University President Noelle Cockett. She did tell me that students will be receiving another media release on what is expected come fall when it comes to classes and whether they will be offering any vaccination clinics or testing and it appears that will be happening on campus similar to a year ago, but likely on a smaller scale.