Forward Together Update

Dear Panther Community,

Winter is officially here! Wearing a mask out in the cold and snow can be a different experience so we wanted to share the CDC's guidelines for keeping yourself and others around you safe during winter weather.

Along with exposure to snow or rain, your mask can become wet just from breathing in cold air, which makes it less effective. A wet mask is harder to breathe through, is less efficient at filtering and vents more around the edges. Be sure to change your mask if it's wet (don't forget to have some replacements handy). If your reusable mask becomes wet, the CDC recommends you put it in a sealed plastic bag until it can be washed.

Also a reminder that scarves, ski masks and other cold-weather coverings are not suitable for preventing COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC. These are typically made of loosely-knit fabrics. These items can be worn over a mask.

If you wear glasses, find a mask that fits closely over your nose or has a nose wire to help reduce fogging, the CDC says. Consider using an antifogging spray that is made for eyeglasses.

IDPH Confirms Three Cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) Variant in Iowa

Yesterday the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed three cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant in Iowa, including one case in neighboring Bremer county. The arrival of this variant to Iowa underscores the importance of wearing a face covering, physically distancing, washing your hands and completing the Panther Health Survey. The CDC is working to learn more about the various COVID-19 variants and UNI's COVID-19 Response Team, in collaboration with our public health partners, is monitoring the situation closely.

Mental Health Training Resources 

The pandemic has left many of us feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes we're unsure how to help others who are struggling. Even starting a conversation can seem tough.
The UNI Counseling Center can help. It offers free online mental health training options for students, faculty and staff. A complete list of available training options is available online. Also, to learn how to have a conversation with someone struggling with their mental health visit Seize the Awkward or Make it OK.

Vaccines Update

The CDC  reports that "COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."

As the next phase of the vaccine rollout begins in Iowa (for those 65 and older), please remember that health care providers will be reaching out to individuals to arrange appointments. Only a small amount of vaccines are currently available so there's no need to call asking to schedule an appointment or walk in to request a vaccine.

That was the message last week from the Black Hawk County Health Department, which issued the reminder during a press conference. The health department is overseeing vaccinations in the county using guidelines developed by the state.

The health department is working with MercyOne, UnityPoint, People's Community Health Clinic and independent health care providers to offer the vaccine. For those 65 and older that have no affiliation with a health care provider, please call the Black Hawk County Health Department 319-292-2360 for more information.

Super Bowl Sunday

As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, the CDC recommends, "Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl this year."
If you have a question, please visit forwardtogether.uni.edu or email it to forwardtogether@uni.edu. Thanks for all that you do to keep yourself, your family and the Panther community safe. 

Stay Well,

John Vallentine, Associate Provost for Faculty
Joseph Rayzor, Director of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety