Virtual Town Hall Addresses COVID-19 Questions, Concerns

March 13, 2020    |  

Will parking garages remain open? Does the pneumonia vaccine help against coronavirus? What if you are told to telework but have no home computer? Will the UM shuttle be running? How do I report a co-worker who travels against policy?

Panelists participate in a virtual town hall about the University of Maryland, Baltimore's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Panelists participate in a virtual town hall about the University of Maryland, Baltimore's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

From test kits to telework, these are just a handful of dozens of inquiries fielded by a panel of experts March 13 during the University of Maryland, Baltimore's (UMB) first Virtual Town Hall to address questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and UMB’s response to the pandemic.  

The hourlong discussion, held in a conference room at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center, was moderated by Interim President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, via Facebook Live.

“This morning the purpose is to allow questions and answers to be created on this webinar so that we can hear what’s on your mind and try to address that to the best of our ability,” Jarrell told viewers. “We won’t have all the answers because this is an evolving process and we are still addressing other policies and procedures that we need to have completed in the next several days.”

The virtual event came one day after UMB instituted new policies impacting travel, in-person instruction, telework and meetings and was designed so as to adhere to social distancing guidelines among the panel, which included:

  • Jonathan Bratt, MS, executive director of emergency management, UMB
  • Wilbur Chen, MD, MS, infectious disease expert, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM)
  • Matt Lasecki, SPHR, associate vice president of human resources, UMB
  • Mario Majette, MD, director of student and employee health, UMSOM
  • Alana Kyriakakis, JD, University counsel

Throughout the state of Maryland and beyond, the outbreak has caused closings, cancellations, and delays. At UMB, to safeguard its faculty, staff, and students, new policies put in place March 12 in response to COVID-19 immediately impacted telework, travel, online classes, and meetings.

“Many of you are aware that yesterday the governor made some very bold announcements about a change in the way the state of Maryland and its agencies will function,” Jarrell said. “These actions are taken, obviously, to control the viral spread and to therefore make things hopefully better in the state of Maryland and for all of us. We have taken many actions at the University level as well.”

Questions from the viewing audience centered on telework, safety, and health precautions, access to buildings on UMB, and other issues related to the new policies.

Jarrell reminded viewers to continue to visit for the latest information on UMB’s response to the coronavirus and helpful resources.

“I want to thank you all for the questions you submitted,” Jarrell said as the town hall was about to conclude. “I hope we got to most if not all of them. I’m sure there will be more. We will continue to have live chat sessions along the way to make sure that everybody in our community, including the UMB community, including our West Baltimore community, and other communities, to be sure we are communicating well and answering questions. We’ll get through this.”

Missed the virtual town hall? Watch a replay here.