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COVID-19: Monitoring COVID-19 and Covenant's Response

Covenant Community:

 

Over the past weeks, there has been heightened public attention surrounding the increase in Coronavirus cases internationally, and the first case of unknown origin that has occurred in the U.S. (out of about 89 confirmed cases in this country as of March 2 including the first two presumptive cases in Florida). Throughout this situation, the College has been monitoring the international and domestic response to the Coronavirus, and has been taking proactive steps to ensure campus safety and guide decisions related to college-related travel.  Students should look for more information this week from Health Services regarding travel over spring break. 

 

What is Coronavirus?

 

It is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally (and growing), including cases in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).  In confirmed cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, depending on the age and health condition of the patient. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)

  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Source:CDC website

 

What does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at this time?

 

While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:

  • It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.

  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Because older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe disease, people in these groups should discuss travel with a healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel.

  • Avoid contact with sick people and stay home if you yourself are sick.

  • 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).

Source:CDC website

 

How is Covenant responding?

 

In response to this situation, Covenant College’s response has included:

  • Convened Emergency Response Team to enact cleaning protocols and focus resources on preventative health measures in campus dining, facilities and cleaning operations, and at the Priesthill Center;

  • Health Services has initiated educational campaigns, stocked hand sanitizing stations across campus, and are following all CDC recommendations for treating ill persons;

  • Meeting with Academic Affairs and Global Education departments regarding study away programs and on-site program delivery;

  • Meeting with Business Operations and Conference Services regarding food service and summer camps;

  • Continuing to monitor the virus both in the U.S. and abroad and to monitor and implement the CDC’s recommendations for our campus community.

 

Are Covenant College students currently traveling or planning to travel in areas where Coronavirus is most prevalent?

  • Currently there are no students in areas where the virus is prevalent.  The Office of Global Education and our onsite educational partner organizations have been in communication with all of our semester-long study abroad students, reiterating safety precautions. Covenant College is monitoring the CDC’s international travel advisories and our program partners there have safety protocols and procedures in place should evacuation become necessary.  

  • Plans for May Term, Summer, and Fall travel are being reviewed in light of the changing landscape.  Those students will be contacted by the Global Education department should there be a change. Students planning to travel on their own should continually monitor the CDC website for international travel advisories.

 

Covenant College will continue to monitor the progression of Coronavirus in compliance with CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, and make plans for spring and summer travel accordingly. We want to assure the campus community that the President’s Cabinet and the Emergency Response Team will continue to monitor this international health situation in a measured and proactive way, and will continue to communicate to the campus as planning and decisions progress. 

 

Questions related to college-related international travel may be directed to the director of global education, Lindsay Saunds. Other general questions related to Covenant's response to the Coronavirus may be directed to Brad Voyles, vice president for student development on behalf of the College’s Emergency Response Team. For additional CDC resources and information on Coronavirus, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.htm  

 

Brad Voyles