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COVID-19 Information for College of Medicine Researchers

Guidelines  |  Research and Support Units  |  Core Facilities Service Status   |  FAQ  
Tools for Working Remotely  |  Online learning  

Guidelines for Researchers

Detailed Guidelines for Ramp Up Plan (Approved by the University's Critical Incident Management Team to start on Tuesday, May 26)

The three main features of how we will operate are:

  1. No one should come to work with any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Stay home if you are ill.
  2. Work together, apart. Social distance whenever possible.
  3. Protect yourself and others with proper PPE and regular cleaning of contact areas.

PPE: 

  • Face masks are required in all public corridors and spaces.  Face shields are an option in research spaces (offices/labs) when strict social distancing may be compromised.
  • Paper face masks and face shields can be obtained from the Carver College of Medicine Biomedical Research Store in 238 EMRB (hours: 8:30–11:30 am, 1–4:30 pm) with your employee ID. 
  • Both a mask and face shield are required for classrooms or dense meetings.
  • For more information, please visit The Loop

Researchers:

  • All occupants of CCOM research buildings are required to take an orientation class on ICON. This will brief researchers on use of PPE, use of surface cleaning and hand hygiene. It will cover the density of labs and how to clean shared instrumentation. It will also include videos produced for University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics on social distancing and face shield care and use.
  • Guidelines have been given to each investigator outlining their own Individual research group operational plan via an online research planning tool that allows the CCOM Office of Research to track the plans while helping investigators configure them. This operational blueprint specifies communication strategies to coordinate the people present in the lab as well as specify a cleaning routine. Individual research operational plans should be modified via a REDCap survey if increasing the number of staff in research spaces.  Please contact Erin Brothers for assistance and information.

Laboratories:

  • Work that can be done from home, should still be done from home. 
  • Maintain social distancing in the research buildings and wear appropriate PPE.
  • PIs should follow their lab plans submitted to the CCOM Office of Research over the summer.  Revised plans should be submitted if the number of staff have increased in lab space.
  • Labs may refill hand sanitizer containers at Biochem Stores on 4th floor BSB for free.

Buildings:

  • Entrances are locked to prevent unauthorized entry. Building access will replicate that of nights and weekends. Interior public corridors through College of Medicine buildings will be open. Occupants should use their badges for entry. Ensure that personnel conducting essential functions have their badge or make arrangements via email with the badge office to get a replacement.
  • With fewer people in buildings, we may be more susceptible to theft. Take extra precautions to secure equipment, computers, and high-risk materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals).
  • Please do not allow individuals to follow you into a building.  With fewer employees on campus, we need to maintain security at entrances. All individuals should be badging into the buildings.
  • Signage informing social distancing and other announcements are prominent at entrances. Face mask/shield reminders, hand washing reminders, and health check status reminders, are posted near lab exits throughout the buildings.
  • There are hand sanitizing and face shield cleaning stations at many entrances.
  • Dispensers of hand sanitizer and surface disinfectant bottles have been distributed throughout the buildings and easily found in public spaces. A limited supply of bottles is available for labs and offices from the CCOM Office of Research.  Contact Sonya Housholder for more information.
  • Public spaces are arranged to promote social distancing.
  • Conference rooms are available for breaks and eating. Please maintain social distancing while eating, preferably limiting occupancy to no more than four people to a room. Hand sanitizer and surface disinfectant are available in those rooms.
  • The Java House is configured with social distancing standing markers and face shield protection for workers. Limited seating is available. Grab-and-go orders are encouraged.
  • Package delivery service has been updated to not require in-person contact.

Custodial services:

Custodial services have been configured to minimize contact with researchers. Staff will wear appropriate PPE when in research areas. Both custodial staff and research staff will be instructive to be respectful of distance. A cleaning routine SOP will be established and initiated if a COVID-19 positive faculty, staff, or trainee self reports. 

​In August, Facilities Management rearranged their custodial services teams to meet new protocols related to COVID and the Fall 2020 Steps Forward for returning education staff and students.  As a result, office cleaning (once monthly trash and recycling disposal as well as vacuuming of floors) was suspended.  Individuals in private, faculty, research or administrative OFFICES should bag their trash as needed and place in the hallway outside of the door. If you need your office vacuumed or spills cleaned up, please submit a request to FM@YourService via phone at 335-5071 or the online portal at https://www.facilities.uiowa.edu/services/fmyourservice.  There are no changes to cleaning protocols for research LAB spaces. Trash, recycling and biohazard pick-up remains the same.

 

Research and Support Units

Clinical Trials: 

University of Iowa Health Care approved the resumption of having clinical study monitors come into the hospital. The following steps will need to be followed for a monitor to come to campus. 

  • The study team should contact the monitor and explain the process for gaining entry to the hospital with particular attention to the fact that they will be required to wear a face mask at all times when in public spaces. 
  • They will need to provide the monitors with directions to the appropriate hospital entrances for visitor screening. 
  • The study team should request that the individual arrive with a face mask. Alternatively, the study team should meet the monitor at the hospital entrance and provide a face mask that can be worn in all public spaces. 
  • Prior to arrival, the study team should send the following information to VisitorManagement@healthcare.uiowa.edu
    • Date of visit or date range (if applicable)
    • Name of Individual:
    • Host Department:
    • Host Department Contact:
  • Visitors should show up to an entrance that supports visitor screening
    • Main Entrance - off the Skyway only due to construction
    • Fountain Lobby Entrance
    • SFCH 1st Floor
    • 1st Floor PFP
    • 2nd Floor PFP Skyway from Ramp 4

Human Subjects:

Please take extra care to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for study participants.  Please read all the guidelines on this page as well as those from the Office of the Vice President for Research.

To proceed, all study groups need to have a plan for how to handle human subjects and research activity to diminish the threat of COVID-19. The plan should ensure:

  • A screening procedure is in place to ensure participants are healthy and do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Proper PPE is provided and worn by the participant. This can be a facemask provided by the research group or brought by the participant.
  • Surfaces that are touched by participants are cleaned before and after use to the standard used routinely for patients in the hospital.

For research studies where study participants would enter the hospital, ample procedures are already in place to satisfy requirements for screening. We are providing a blanket approval for your plan up front if you agree to adhere to guidelines.  

To ensure that screening goes smoothly for participants who are entering the hospital it is important that you notify participants prior to their arrival and provide direction to the hospital entrances where screening is taking place.  Tell them to bring their own face mask, if possible.  For research subjects that have a visit that is entered into EPIC, screening will take place just as it would for one of our patients.  If you have a low risk study that does not require you to place a visit in EPIC, you must notify the screening team the day prior to the scheduled visit.  The study team will need to provide a list with the following information to the screeners.

  • Name of research subject
  • Date of arrival
  • Study Coordinator Contact 
  • Study Coordinator’s Phone number

Please send the list to VisitorManagement@healthcare.uiowa.edu. They will ensure that the Epic screeners know our patients don’t have an EPIC appointment and to check our list instead.

For those of us who have study participants that would not be entering the hospital, some type of comparable screening procedure needs to be in place to check for symptoms of COVID-19 and to ensure proper PPE is provided and worn.  The study team will need to perform the screening procedures. Also remember that many entrances are locked so a study team member may need to meet the research subject at the door to the facility. A digital thermometer is available for check-out from the CCOM Facilities office in L191 MERF.   

Finally, for those going off-campus, perhaps making house calls to visit study participants, this is allowed.  However, please format a clear and concise plan for how you will protect your research team and your study participant.

Sponsored Programs:

Please see Coronavirus (COVID) Updates Related to Sponsored Projects page for the most up-to-date information. 

 

Core Facilities Service Status

  • Biochemistry Stores - All services are normal.
  • Biomedical Informatics Service - All services are normal, all training is virtual and virtual consults are available.
  • Biomedical Research Store - All services are normal.  Customers are required to wear a face mask and/or face shield when approaching the window. 
  • BSL3 - All services are normal. 
  • Comparative Pathology Laboratory - Information not available. Please contact the core director. 
  • Electron Spin Resonance Core - All services are normal.  Sample drop-off is by arrangement. 
  • Flow Cytometry Facility - All services are normal. 
  • Genome Editing Core - All services are normal. 
  • High Throughput Screening Facility - All services are normal. 
  • IIHG Bioinformatics - All services are normal. Consultations by appointment only. 
  • IIHG Genomics - All services are normal.  Some instruments, including all self-service instrumentation, are by appointment only in order to minimize people density in the research space. Consultations are by teleconference. 
    • Sanger Sequencing, Real-time PCR, DNA Bioanalalysis sample submission:  Place samples in the refrigerator outside 116 EMRB on the appropriate rack.  Sample submission sheets go in the marked box.
    • For Real time PCR submissions, please wrap the sample submission sheet around the plate.
    • RNA Bioanalysis, NanoString, Microarray and 10X Genomics scRNA-Seq sample submission:  Make an appointment to submit samples by contacting Genomics Division at 335-7928, 335-6736, or 335-7251 or email dna-genomeseq@uiowa.edumary-boes@uiowa.edu, or garry-hauser@uiowa.edu to be met at the door. ​
  • Magnetic Resonance Research Facility - All services are normal. 
  • Metabolic Phenotyping Core - All services are normal. 
  • Metabolomics Core - All services are normal. In some cases, analysis may take mildly longer than in non-covid times. Sample drop-off should be arranged in advance with Alvin Pewa
  • Neural Circuits and Behavior Core - Information not available. Please contact the core director. 
  • NMR Facility - All services are normal. 
  • Protein & Crystallography Facility - All services are normal. However, instrument reservations will not be automatically approved in order to minimize people density in the research space. Users may be asked to reschedule an experiment.  Advanced planning is encouraged. Samples may be dropped off in the fridge outside the 600 core. 
  • Proteomics Core - Information not available. Sample drop-off is by arrangement. 
  • Radiation and Free Radical Research Facility - Information not available. Please contact the core director. 
  • Radiology Core Lab - Information not available. Please contact the core director. 
  • Small Animal Imaging Core - All services are normal. 
  • Scientific Editing & Research Communication Core - All services are normal. Consultations are by phone or Zoom. 
  • Tissue Procurement Core - All services are normal. 
  • Viral Vector Core - All services are normal. Sample drop-off is by arrangement.  

 

FAQ

Q: What can I do if I need to work closely with someone learning a new instrument or doing a procedure together that brings me within 6 ft of them for an extended period of time.
A: Both of you should wear face masks and clean your hands before and after that session.  You may also opt for additional protection with a face shield.

Q: Can staff gather in break rooms and other places to eat and relax?
A: Break rooms and conference rooms are small, and only a limited number of people should be there.  Err on the cautious side and stay > 6ft apart.   Clean surfaces before and after use.  Do not use these spaces for group meetings.

Q:  With the new PPE guidelines, where can I obtain more face masks?
A: Paper face masks are available at most building entrances as well as the Biomedical Research Stores in 238 EMRB. Additionally, a UI-provided PPE package containing 2 cloth face masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer is available upon request. Contact Sonya Housholder for more information.

Q: Are "public spaces" that require the wearing of face shields referring to indoor public spaces, and not to outdoor, open-air spaces on the medical campus?
A: You don't have to wear your face mask outside unless you are unable to maintain appropriate social distance from other people.

Q: I am afraid of touching anything. Doors, sink handles, all of that.  Should we be cleaning these all the time?  How do I get out of the bathroom? 
A: Everyone's individual research space should have its surfaces cleaned regularly. High touch areas should have special attention, but everything cannot be cleaned all the time. People that have symptoms of COVID-19 are not to be here. If you touch a surface you think is questionable, the key thing is not to touch your face. Wearing your face mask and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer when you reach your destination is the recommendation. 

Q: Can undergraduate workers return to the labs? 
A: As of June 1st, undergraduate biweekly employees are permitted to return to CCOM labs with restrictions. An undergraduate employee:  

  • Must be identified in your research ramp up plan and go towards your final count of researchers in your group.
  • Should be an essential part of your research efforts.
  • Should contribute a specific skill set to your research effort, preferably based on previous experience with your lab.
  • Must not be primarily engaged in training and educational experiences.
  • Must adhere to all the guidelines put forth by our office, including taking the ICON course and wearing face shields in public spaces always or in research spaces where social distancing may be momentarily compromised.
  • Cursory laboratory experiences for undergraduates or high school students will NOT be approved. 

Q: Is it ok to invite a visitor to campus?
A: Visitors, including minors, are not allowed at this time.  This does not include faculty recruits, service technicians or contractors. 

Q: What about animal research?
A: The Office of Animal Resources has guidelines available online.

Q: Where do I find cleaning and sanitizing supplies for the lab/office? Can I buy those with my pcard?  
A:  No. Due to national shortages, the University has established a supply chain for low-stock items and prohibited purchases on pcards, eBuy or PReq. See below for where to find commonly needed supplies. 

  • Face masks and face shields: Biomedical Research Store in 238 EMRB (For non-patient care staff)
  • N95, N95 NOISH, KN95, surgical or isolation masks: Must be ordered through the University via https://veoci.com/veoci/p/w/zfdrucs3986k?c=123041
  • Cloth face masks: We have a limited supply in L191 MERF or request a UI-provided PPE package containing 2 cloth masks.  Only one package allowed per staff member.
  • Gloves: Biochemistry Stores on 4th Floor BSB
  • EtOH: Biochemistry Stores on 4th Floor BSB
  • Hand Sanitizer: CCOM labs and building occupants can refill existing bottles at the Biochemistry Stores in BSB at no charge. There are a limited number of bottles available for labs if they are needed.  Contact Sonya Housholder for more information. 
  • Disinfectant/cleaning wipes: Must be ordered through the University via https://veoci.com/veoci/p/w/zfdrucs3986k?c=123041.

 

Tools for Working Remotely

Having problems with remote connectivity?  Need software for your home computer?  Please check these resources before calling a Help Desk.

Resources

What level of IT access do I need? 

How do I contact a Help Desk?  

  • HCIS: 319-356-0001
  • ITS: 319-384-HELP

Software licenses for home use

  • Lasergene - Download
  • SnapGene - Download 
    Use: "Stay safe" for the group name. This license expires on June 17. 
  • Graphpad Prism - Download
    Full-featured free trial expires after 30 days.
  • ITS has a list of software links specifically provided for remote working. 

Forwarding office/lab phones

Calls can be forwarded to a campus, local, or long distance number.  Call forward all (CFA) and call forward/busy-no answer (CFBNA) can be active at the same time. CFA will override CFBNA. When CFA is canceled, CFBNA will still be in affect.

If using a local or long distance number as the call forward number, the phone number entered will need to be preceded with the number 9 so the call will transfer off campus.

To forward all calls (CFA): All calls will immediately transfer to another phone line.

  • Lift handset, hear dial tone.
  • Dial *7, hear broken dial tone.
  • Dial number to which calls are to be forwarded; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset. 
    With each incoming call, the telephone will ring a half-ring as a reminder that this feature has been set before transferring to the receiving phone number. 

To cancel CFA:

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial #7; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset.

To set call forward/busy-no answer (CFBNA): Calls will forward immediately if the phone line is busy or after three rings if not answered. If the receiving phone line is busy, the office/lab phone will continue to ring.

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial *8; hear broken dial tone.
  • Dial number to which calls are to be forwarded; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset.

To cancel CFBNA:

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial #8; hear high-pitched confirmaton tone.
  • Replace handset.