From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

We continue to monitor the local and global health situation around the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Harris County has issued a "Stay Home. Work Safe." order starting today, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. The Division of Research provided guidelines for shutting down non-essential functions in laboratories on the “Stay Home. Work Safe.” webpage. Our research support services will continue to operate remotely.

We want to share a few additional updates with you:

Protective Equipment

The hospital systems and medical schools of the Texas Medical Center need personal protective equipment. These institutions are seeking the following items: (i) PAPRs (3M Versa Flow; 3M Breath Easy; Honeywell PA 700; Max Air); (ii) Masks (N95; 3M model numbers 8210, 1860, 1860S, 1870; Moldex N95 – all sizes); and (iii) Tyvek suits. Please reach out to Houston Methodist's supply chain VP David Peck (dhpeck@houstonmethodist.org, mobile is 717-283-5740) if you can help with any of these items.

Preparing for the "Stay Home. Work Safe." Order

Due to the "Stay Home. Work Safe." order issued by Harris County starting today, Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m., researchers must ramp down their research.

Check our website for helpful information. All units have Continuity of Operation Plans in place that identify essential faculty, students and staff to access the campus and continue essential research-related activities that (i) would pose a safety hazard or result in significant data and sample loss; (ii) are required to maintain animal populations or other living organisms, critical equipment, samples, reagents, and materials; and (iii) are COVID-19 related and have a timeline for deployment that could address the current crisis.

As a reminder, human subjects are not to come on campus during this time (see our website for details). Contact the IRB immediately if there are concerns about potential harm to subjects from missing study visits. To avoid potential issues with access, please ensure that your lab’s continuity plan on file with UH Emergency Management is up-to-date with the names of current essential research team members.

Working from Home and Charging Salaries on Grants When No Work is Performed

We communicated last Friday that a monitoring plan must be in place for those who have an approved UH Remote Work Agreement and have effort on a sponsored award. Details can be found on our website, including a link to a spreadsheet that can be used for monitoring.

To deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on the daily work of University of Houston employees, the University allows for “Emergency Leave” starting 3/18/2020 through 04/01/2020. It applies to benefits eligible, non-exempt and exempt employees under circumstances that were communicated by HR. Some agencies, like the NIH and NSF, are making allowances for the charging of salaries and benefits during periods when no work is performed due to COVID-19, regardless of the funding source.

Expenditures to continue

The University currently has a 30-day moratorium on entering new financial obligations. Not all funding sources are affected by this moratorium. Please work with your Department and College Business Administrator regarding new fiscal commitments.  A list of impacted fund types has been provided to your business office and is posted on our Funding webpage.

Animal Care Operations

I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the strengths of our Animal Care program and the efficiency principles of lean management. Our Animal Care facility is open and fully staffed. The inventory management of all food, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and cleaning agents allows ACO to weather prolonged disruptions in the supply chain. All staff in ACO, except administrative staff, are considered essential personnel to ensure the continuation of the operation. ACO has a management plan in place that allows for the fulfillment of husbandry duties even if just one ACO staff member is in the primate and rodent areas, respectively. In the unlikely event that all ACO staff members are in quarantine or unable to be on campus, a plan is being developed to identify investigators or members of their staff that would be willing to assist with the care of animals in the research area.

 

Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer | elnashai@uh.edu

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