Information on COVID-19 and guidance for traveling – March 3, 2020
Dear FSU Community,
The situation with COVID-19 (formerly 2019 nCoV or novel coronavirus) is evolving daily and new cases continue to emerge in additional countries and more areas in the United States. With spring break approaching and understanding the possibility that some in our community may be planning travel, we wish to share travel recommendations and give you an update on COVID-19 infection and prevention.
Spring Break Travel Information
If you are traveling, either domestically or internationally, during spring break, we strongly recommend that you check travel advisories for all destinations, including layovers, before, during and after you return. This is a rapidly changing situation, so travelers to any area should stay up to date on their potential risk.
Information about international travel including list of countries that are on the restricted travel list, can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website CDC Travel Because the situation could change quickly, those considering travel should also visit the U.S. State Department website and commercial airline websites for updates. We recommend registering with the STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) on the State Department website.
As the virus spreads, more countries may be added to the restricted travel list. Upon return from travel from a Level 3 country (currently China, Italy, Iran, South Korea) CDC Travel, it is recommended that you self-quarantine for 14 days after return which includes remaining off campus. Please contact the Health Center at 508-626-4900 for medical clearance before returning to campus.
COVID-19 is now in at least 12 states, including Florida, a popular spring break destination. Information about domestic travel within the United States can also be found on the CDC website and Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.
If you develop fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, ESPECIALLY within 14 days after international or domestic travel, you should seek medical attention. Make sure you call ahead to your health care provider’s office and describe your symptoms and recent travel.
Information about COVID-19 Infection and Prevention
It is important to note that for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. However, the situation with COVID-19 is evolving rapidly.
The risk of COVID-19 infection is dependent on exposure, but details about the new virus are still emerging. The most important route of transmission is likely close contact (six feet or less) with sick patients who spread respiratory droplets when they cough or sneeze. The risk of spread from asymptomatic people and from touching surfaces and objects contaminated with the virus is much lower than droplet spread from sick patients. The reported incubation period (time from exposure to the onset of symptoms) ranges from two to 14 days. There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at present, so prevention is crucial.
Even if you do not have travel plans, we encourage all members of the FSU community to follow healthy practices. Aside from the coronavirus, we are also in the height of flu and cold season. The best way to prevent the spread of any type of respiratory infection is:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 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.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Face-masks are not recommended for healthy people to avoid respiratory viruses including COVID-19.
We understand this situation personally impacts members of the FSU community and that you may be concerned about friends, family and loved ones around the world. It is vital that we support each other, avoid uninformed assumptions, and base decisions on the best information available. Up-to-date information is available from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
FSU officials are monitoring the situation closely and we will be keeping the college community informed as we learn more.
Thank you all for partnering to keep our campus healthy. If you have any questions, please contact the FSU Health Center at 508-626-4900. Information is also available through the Health Center website.
Ilene Hofrenning MSN, FNP-BC
Director, Health Center