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Message from OLAR and VPR

Date: 11/20/2020

To the WVU Research Community,

The Office of Laboratory Animal Resources (OLAR), the Vice President for Research (VPR), and the Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) wanted to reach out to you regarding the current increase in COVID cases locally and nationwide. Due to this trend, our Attending Veterinarian Dr. Tara Cotroneo is leading OLAR in evaluating our disaster plan and developing continuity of care plans to ensure that animal welfare is maintained in the event of reduction in staffing. We anticipate such staffing reductions may occur due to COVID infections or mandatory quarantines. Managing these difficult circumstances requires everyone to work together. The research laboratories have been superlative in collaborating with OLAR during these times, and we look forward to that continued teamwork.

Currently, we do not have any staffing concerns, but we want to be proactive and ready in case changes occur. WVU considers all of our animals as vital to our research endeavors. Animal welfare and high-quality animal care is our primary priority, and OLAR is taking proactive steps to reduce potential exposure/spread of COVID amongst our staff to the best of our ability.

In contrast to the situation in spring, OLAR’s animal census is increased at this time due to laboratory productivity this fall. We are happy to see everyone getting back to work, but the current animal numbers do create concern about the ability to provide care if staff reduction becomes necessary. Experiments that cannot be interrupted without impact to the work should continue as planned, but we ask that other experiments pause any activities that would lead to increases in animal numbers to make sure we get through this period. We will reassess as we move forward but believe that the voluntary restrictions will not be needed after the first of the year. We want to ensure a situation which allows everyone to continue their current projects without interruption and avoid the need for more drastic steps to be taken. We know this is a difficult time for everyone and are thankful for the collaborative and collegial environment at WVU. Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Cotroneo, Dr. Gibson, or Dr. King with questions.

Sincerely,

Fred King, Vice President for Research

Tara Cotroneo, Attending Veterinarian