MDM Information Regarding Covid-19

Friday, March 13, 2020 10:30 AM

With the dynamic situation faced by our parent institutions—by the country at large frankly—it is worthwhile to weigh in with a reminder to be more proactive about issues related to cleanliness, hygiene and travel planning.  

MDM does not currently have an “official” policy in regards to travel to the Observatory for scientific observations.  Instead, the stance of the Observatory is that all potentially traveling observers should look to their parent institutions for guidance on whether or not to reconsider travel during the current situation.  Also worth considering is the advice given by the CDC in regards specifically to travel.  It seems extremely unlikely that contagion could be spread from MDM Observatory outwards at this point.  Instead, the greater concern is the spread from higher risk areas.  Determination of whether or not an observer’s home base is considered higher risk is the responsibility of their parent institution, City/State government, as well as themselves.  These are the factors that should be weighed when considering travel to the Observatory.  

Currently, Kitt Peak National Observatory is closed indefinitely to the general public.  The Visitor Center is closed as well.  However, general operations on the mountain as of 13March continue.  This includes here at MDM Observatory.  It should be understood and appreciated that this could change at any time.  Any and all updates will be posted here, as well as sent to the MDM Consortium Representatives.  

In return, MDM appreciates that under the current situation, observer plans can also change at a moment’s notice, potentially leading to little warning in regards to scheduled time being cancelled and telescope time being subsequently lost.  The stated policy of the Observatory is to strongly discourage allowing scheduled time to lapse unnecesarily.  Of course, this situation is extraordinary in nature and the Observatory recognizes and understands that time lost is likely inevitable.  That all said, the Observatory also greatly appreciates having observers exercise a stronger level of being proactive in reaching out to us about any potential changes in their scheduled programs as they occur.  This will help us greatly in trying to plan to minimize time lost.

To summarize, and borrowing from UM President Mark Schlissel:

There are everyday actions we can all take to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with cough, sneezing and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

Please check back frequently as this may be updated or revised as necessary.  Thanks for your understanding and cooperation as we all work through the most appropriate way to navigate through these decisions.