March marks a year since activity began to shut down across the country. I know I will never forget shifting the GSB online over a weekend, and the effort that so many faculty, staff, and students made to adapt to online learning and working from home. The pandemic’s toll has been high — not only in lives lost, but in physical and mental well-being, and economic hardship — and this winter has been especially challenging.
Finally, it feels like we are seeing daylight ahead.
- Infection rates have declined sharply. Rates are low enough in Santa Clara County that we could move to the less restrictive red tier as soon as this week. That is a necessary step for any kind of in-person instruction on campus; planning continues for some hybrid classes and other in-person components of Spring Quarter if conditions permit.
- Campus infection rates continue to be low. Stanford is allowing groups of up to eight from three different households for socially distanced meetings or meals outdoors. We have opened Arbuckle for individual seating.
- Santa Clara County is now vaccinating residents in Phase 1B, including workers in education and childcare, food and agriculture, and emergency services. The recent email from Russell Furr provides Stanford’s guidance on vaccination.
- Yesterday’s approval of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is very good news for the pace of vaccinations. The U.S. is currently delivering around 1.75 million vaccine doses per day. If the rate can increase to three million (or even a bit lower given that the J&J vaccine is a single dose), essentially all American adults could be fully vaccinated by mid-summer.
We still face the risk that COVID variants could reduce vaccine efficacy, or that relaxing restrictions could lead to a new surge of cases. A recent Imperial College study forecast summer conditions in the UK even worse than recent months under some scenarios. So it is important that we remain vigilant. However, most signs are welcome and positive as we look ahead to the next six months. Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to make this very challenging year a success.
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful California weekend,