Any student or employee who tests positive for COVID-19 must contact the university immediately.
What does COVID-19 cause? How do I know if I have COVID-19? What should I do if I think I have been exposed or infected?
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, can be very severe or may cause no symptoms at all. Many patients experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Typical signs of a “cold,” runny nose, sore throat and congestion, are not usually present. In severe cases, the disease leads to problems breathing, requiring hospitalization and respiratory support. Many of the deaths recorded so far from COVID-19 are in the elderly or those with other chronic medical issues, such as heart or lung conditions. If you have been exposed to someone known to have the disease and you develop symptoms, call your health care provider so they can arrange for testing and care.
How do I prevent infection with the novel coronavirus? Does wearing a mask help? Should I wear a mask on a plane?
There are no vaccines or preventive medicines for the novel coronavirus at present. The virus likely spreads the same way as the flu – by airborne droplets and by being picked up from surfaces or someone else’s hands and being introduced into your eyes, nose or mouth inadvertently during daily activities. The best way to prevent infection is not to go near someone who is sick with the disease – avoid travel to areas of the world where COVID-19 outbreaks are occurring. If you are in areas with active disease outbreaks, the best measures are to stay at least six feet away from anyone with symptoms, avoid close contact such as shaking hands, and practice frequent hand hygiene.
The novel coronavirus can be killed on your hands or on other surfaces with normal varieties of soap, disinfectants and alcohol solutions such as hand gels. Special disinfectants are not needed. Frequently cleaning your hands and being very careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth without clean hands are the best prevention if you are in an outbreak. Common surgical masks are probably modestly effective for a short period of time but are not a reliable method for preventing infection. N95 respirators are likely more effective but are also not reliable. If a mask is uncomfortable, it may even be counterproductive by leading you to put your hands to your face more often. There is no information that suggests wearing a mask on a plane reduces the likelihood of infection with the novel coronavirus.
To which countries should I avoid traveling?
The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China and Iran; they currently are the only countries from which foreign nationals are being denied entry to the U.S. The CDC also recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea and Italy because they are experiencing widespread sustained transmission of respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel to Japan due to sustained community transmission, the CDC says. Travelers to Hong Kong should practice the usual travel precautions, according to the CDC. As outbreaks continue to spread, other countries or parts of other countries will be affected. U.S. travelers can keep up to date at the following website listing the latest affected areas: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
Can I receive mail or packages from infected areas?
Yes. It is very unlikely that the virus could be acquired from packages or mail due to the time involved in shipping, changes in temperatures and types of materials used. The virus cannot be acquired from the air in popped bubble wrap or other inflated packaging from China.
How long before symptoms appear? How long does the disease last? When is someone infectious?
Symptoms appear in a broad range between two and 10 days after exposure and infection. If someone has not developed symptoms in 14 days from exposure, it is deemed unlikely the person was infected. It is unknown how long the disease lasts, but it is likely to vary considerably by age and by the state of the immune system. Persons who are infected are considered infectious and can transmit the virus before they have symptoms and may be able to transmit for some time after they have recovered – not enough research has been done on this topic yet to give definitive answers.
Where can I get more information?
The latest known information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) is at the CDC’s Coronavirus website.