With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to make headlines, it is natural to be concerned about the University community. Dr. Cheryl Hug-English, the University’s Medical Director of Student Health, and I are jointly providing this update. We understand and share your concerns. Our aim is to inform you about the latest on the novel coronavirus and to reassure you as to the measures being taken to protect our University community.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to believe that the risk of acquiring this virus in the United States is low. While increasing cases are being reported worldwide, it is important to emphasize there are currently no known cases of the novel coronavirus on the University campus or in the state of Nevada.
While the CDC indicates that “at this time, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States,” the CDC also must prepare people for the reality that “more cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the U.S.”
The University anticipates and is prepared for this possibility, aligning and prioritizing health resources and collaborating with our health experts and agency partners. Plans and communications are at the ready to help protect students, faculty and staff.
Protective measures and precautions already in place
The University of Nevada, Reno, remains vigilant, alert, aware and prepared. Following CDC recommendations and in collaboration with the Washoe County Health District and the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, we have taken several important steps and will continue to do so to keep our campus safe:
- Since early on, the Student Health Center has continued to stay in constant communication with the Washoe County Health District.
- The University’s Issues Management Team, comprised of principal, responsible University decision makers, have met and will continue to closely monitor the situation to be ready to take appropriate action to protect the University community.
- To date, three University communications have kept students, faculty and staff updated.
- Over the past month, the expertise of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL), located on campus, has been added to our collaborative health and information effort. NSPHL serves as Nevada’s centralized lab, representing a first line of defense in rapid detection of a public health threat.
- We continue to monitor the situation closely and to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- We are working closely with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) and Student Services to ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff.
Due to the continued spread of this virus in China as well as some other nations, early on the United States government took additional steps to restrict travel to and from China. For students preparing to travel for the upcoming spring break, it is strongly recommended that you follow the latest travel restrictions, by visiting CDC’s traveler information.
For students planning to study abroad this year, please contact the University’s USAC office staff below or Cairn Lindloff at (775) 784-6874 at the Office of International Students and Scholars who can provide information and updates regarding any students currently or planning to study abroad:
- For information about the status of USAC programs, contact Johanna Moxley at Moxley@usac.edu or 775-682-5885.
- For coronavirus specific updates, check our updates page or contact USAC’s Health and Safety Managers Christine Sieben or Elizabeth Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-784-6569
- For advising assistance, you may review program information at usac.edu; email email@example.com; or drop by the USAC Advising Center located in the VSG, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CDC prevention guidelines
For commonly asked questions and responses, visit CDC FAQs. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- For information about handwashing, see CDC’s handwashing website.
Maintaining perspective, empathy and respect
While there is understandable anxiety about this new coronavirus, it is important to maintain perspective on the current status of the novel coronavirus in the United States, which has resulted in no fatalities. In comparison, CDC reports over 19 million cases of flu illness and 10,000 fatalities from the flu virus already this season. Simple health practices will help prevent these and other respiratory illnesses.
Finally, while the University leadership and community health experts continue to focus on protecting our state, our students, faculty, staff, and our community, it’s important to keep in mind the worldwide victims of this virus and the impact on their friends and family all around us. Further, it’s a timely reminder to avoid stereotyping or stigmatizing any individuals or groups, and treat all people with respect and empathy.
We will continue to monitor this situation, and our medical staff is staying up to date with guidelines and recommendations to help promote the health and safety of our campus.
For the latest information and updates, visit the Student Health Center website.