Dear DePauw Students, Faculty and Staff,
As Spring Break approaches, we want to provide an update to our Jan. 24 message regarding precautionary health measures to take for Coronavirus COVID-19. Separately, the DePauw International Risk Assessment Committee, Critical Incident Management Team and Cabinet have been meeting to finalize a series of recommendations regarding international travel safety and preparedness, on which we will update you within 48 hours.
Please note that ongoing updates will continue to be posted on our preparedness web page.
While the risk of coronavirus COVID-19 in the U.S. remains low at this time and there are no confirmed cases in Indiana or at DePauw University, we continue to prepare for a potential outbreak or pandemic. Recent developments in California, Oregon and Washington state suggest the virus may now be present in the Western United States. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.
As you plan for Spring Break travel, please note the following advice. We encourage you to follow the information on the CDC website regarding travel available here.
Travel within the United States in areas with no COVID-19 cases is considered low risk. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.
Based on CDC and State Department travel guidance, DePauw University recommends against personal travel to China, Italy, South Korea and Japan during spring break. These areas are experiencing community spread of COVID-19. The CDC also recommends all travelers reconsider cruise ship voyages into or within Asia at this time. The situation is changing rapidly, and other countries could be added to the CDC list in the coming days and weeks.
If you travel internationally during spring break, please consider the following:
- Understand and routinely check any travel and border restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination, and upon your return, such as denial of entry or a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival.
- Allow additional time for arrival procedures, or when passing through affected area airports, taking into account temperature and health screenings.
- If you are traveling or transiting from COVID-19 affected areas, anticipate more stringent scrutiny and reconfirm the status of flights with your carrier or the airport.
- Follow all official directives by authorities.
- Monitor developments through the U.S. State Department and CDC websites.
- Do not travel if you are sick; travelers who are sick risk being quarantined and health testing.
DePauw has no COVID-19 cases or persons under investigation. The CDC and Indiana State Department of Health have recommended business as usual practices without restriction for on campus events or large group activities. We ask that everyone remain vigilant and prepared. The best public health actions are nonpharmacological interventions (NPI’s) that can slow the spread of emerging respiratory diseases like COVID – 19 for which vaccines and drug treatments are not yet available. Please review the following NPI’s for community preparedness.
CDC and WHO recommends individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures:
- Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
- Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can and perform hand hygiene.
- Refrain from touching mouth and nose.
- Hand Hygiene: Wash 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 60%-95% alcohol.
- A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask-of any type-protects non-sick persons. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn. If an individual becomes symptomatic, it is appropriate to seek medical evaluation by calling ahead before visiting your medical provider and place a mask on your face upon arrival.
- Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects
Routine use of these measures by individuals and their families will increase community resilience and readiness for responding to an outbreak.
DePauw Health has identified Indiana State Department of Health experts and communicated with them in answering important questions. We are following screening protocols and preparing for future needs at the health center as we strive to keep our community prepared.
Students feeling stressed/concerned about the situation in China or other high-risk areas that affect family members are reminded that Student Academic Life is available to help by calling 765-658-4270. Faculty and staff may contact the health center or their health care provider for an appointment.
Should the DePauw community experience a COVID –19 outbreak, further personal protective and community measure recommendations will follow. DePauw Health continues to monitor the situation frequently and will provide updates as indicated.
Additional resources for information can be found at the following:
David M. Harsha, MD
Medical Director, DePauw Health