Initial message to FSU community with info on COVID-19 – January 31, 2020

To the Framingham State Community,

There has been much reporting in the news lately about the corona virus that is spreading in China. The Health Center would like to give the campus an update on the virus and let you know what we are doing to protect the community.

What is novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

2019-nCoV is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and has caused a number of deaths.

Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including as of this date, 5 cases in the U.S.  there have been no cases in Massachusetts. Over 100 other people in the US who traveled to the Wuhan area in China are being monitored.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance. 

  • The immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time.
  • Most people with the virus have mild to moderate flulike or cold symptoms.
  • The disease is more severe if a person has an underlying health condition or is elderly.
  • The virus does not appear to last for more than a few hours on surfaces and standard cleaning and disinfectant products are effective.

Symptoms and transmission:

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing.

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.


People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. (source: CDC)


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Currently, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. 

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu if you haven’t already.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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.

Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:

  • Traveled to Wuhan, or
  • Visited an affected region in China, or
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms.

You should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a medical office, urgent care or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Students should call the Health Center at 508-626-4900.
  • Other members of the community should call their primary care provider.

What is the FSU Health Center doing about 2019-nCoV?

  • All students and faculty who traveled to China over winter break were contacted were contacted and instructed to seek medical care if they developed symptoms.
  • We are in close contact with MDPH and following their guidance as well as guidance from the CDC and American College Health Association.
  • We are promoting healthy habits and prevention strategies for all members of the community
  • We will keep the FSU community updated as new information arises.

Please contact the Health Center with any questions or concerns!

Ilene Hofrenning MSN, FNP-BC

Director, Health Center