Feb. 10, 2020
We continue to closely monitor the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and can still report that we have had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Johns Hopkins University or in the state of Maryland. Guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to indicate that the general risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low in the United States.
Johns Hopkins University’s clinicians and researchers specializing in global public health, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness have been at the forefront of the international response by advancing the understanding of the virus, informing the public, and briefing policymakers. Some of these experts recorded a briefing on February 5; we welcome you to view it on the Hub. That website also maintains a collection of timely information on this topic.
Some anxiety is natural during a significant international public health event, especially when there are unknowns. As a multicultural university community, we must take care not to make assumptions about others based on perceived symptoms or ethnicity and to differentiate between myth and fact.
Below you will find current guidance related to screening, travel, use of masks, university activities, and general wellness:
Travel restrictions implemented by the U.S. government inhibit entry into the country from China for non-U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in China will also find limited travel options to and from China. Travelers from China will be routed to specific airports within the United States. At these airports, CDC and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect travelers with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing who are entering the United States.
Anyone with international travel plans should remain apprised of current travel guidelines as issued by the U.S. government. Also be mindful of the possibility that guidance may change once you have left the United States and/or arrived in your destination country. Questions about impacts and decisions around specific programs should be directed to department/division leadership for consultation.
As of February 2 at 5 p.m., by federal rule, faculty, staff, and students who have been in China before traveling to the U.S. are expected to stay at home, monitor themselves for 14 days following arrival, and promptly report a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. If you remain free of symptoms, including fever, through the course of this 14-day period without medication, there are no additional activity restrictions and you may return to work and/or school on day 15. If you arrived in the U.S. prior to February 2 at 5 p.m. and have already returned to work and/or school, you may continue those activities as long as you continue to remain free of symptoms.
During this 14-day self-quarantine, watch for any changes in your health. If you develop symptoms, avoid contact with others until we can determine the best way to evaluate and treat you safely. Do not go in person to the Student Health and Wellness Center or University Health Services for assessment. Instead, call our providers for an initial phone screening.
Students (full- or part-time) affiliated with the following schools should contact the Homewood Student Health and Wellness Center at 410-516-5709:
- Carey Business School
- Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (including Advanced Academic Programs)
- Peabody Institute
- School of Advanced International Studies
- School of Education
- Whiting School of Engineering (including Engineering for Professionals)
Students (full- or part-time) affiliated with the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health should contact University Health Services at 410-955-3250. After hours, you may enter a callback number at 410-283-3855.
Employees (faculty and staff) should contact Occupational Health Services:
- Between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., call 410-955-6211
- Between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., call Centrex on the East Baltimore campus at 410-955-5000 and ask for the Occupational Health Nurse on-call.
In order to manage the volume of calls, we encourage you to seek screening at this time only if you have symptoms and have been to China in the past 14 days. If an individual does show symptoms of the coronavirus, the university will follow a protocol to assist the individual and will notify any other individuals who are known to have had contact with them.
USE OF MASKS
The university is not providing masks and has not issued guidance encouraging people to wear them. A mask is not required or recommended, as there is no evidence available to suggest that they protect healthy people. This aligns with current CDC and WHO guidance. Students, staff, and faculty may obtain and wear masks if they choose.
UNIVERSITY CLASSES AND ACTIVITIES
University classes and activities continue to take place as scheduled, with the exception of those in China.
We recognize that the longer the travel restrictions remain in place, the more questions arise related to future plans for programs, research, and study in China. Administrators are looking ahead at these potential impacts and evaluating the appropriate operational response.
Because this is already the season for flu and other viruses, we ask all students, faculty, and staff who have illness accompanied by fever—regardless of their travels—to refrain from going to classes, labs, dining halls, offices, and other places where they could spread illness among others. To limit spread, we ask that a person have a normal temperature for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) before resuming a regular schedule.
The university asks faculty to be flexible in allowing students to make these decisions without necessarily visiting a medical practitioner for documentation of their illness. Staff should follow the normal procedures for sick time away from work; please notify your supervisor, and follow the university’s sick leave policy.
Other advice to avoid the spread of viruses includes:
- Get a seasonal flu vaccination, even if you are not required to do so.
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water (washing for a full minute) or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand washing is crucial, particularly before eating or any activity that involves touching your face.
- Cough into your sleeve (the crook of your elbow) or a tissue, not into your hands.
- Stay home if you have a fever until you are fever-free for 24 hours without any medication.
We encourage anyone feeling anxiety or stress to access university mental health resources. Students can find those resources at wellness.jhu.edu or get in contact with their school’s student affairs office. Faculty and staff can use the mySupport program.
Thank you for your ongoing cooperation. We will continue to keep you updated.
Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being
Vice President for Human Resources