COVID-19 update

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To the VCU and VCU Health Communities,

VCU and VCU Health continue to monitor and plan for the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As of now, there are no confirmed cases in our community or in Virginia. We remain in close contact with the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and have taken several proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our students, patients, faculty and staff.

The university’s Incident Coordination Team and the health system’s Coronavirus Task Force have been activated. Working together around the clock, these groups are monitoring and updating response plans.

Student and Employee Travel

Several actions have been taken regarding travel and VCU students studying abroad in locations currently experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks:

  • The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have increased their travel advisory levels for Italy and South Korea due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.  We are communicating with students in these countries to advise them to follow the U.S. Department of State and CDC guidance.
  • In addition, we plan to cancel study abroad programs in any countries in which the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory or above due to COVID-19 and will communicate specific instructions to students in those programs.
  • Students who have returned from a country that is classified by the U.S. Department of State as Level 3 Travel Advisory or above for COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine (avoiding close contact with others) and stay away from campus for 14 days. If experiencing symptoms, they should also telephone their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travel and symptoms. Following the self-quarantine period, students should be cleared for return by a qualified health care professional or by Student Health in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health.
  • Faculty or staff who have returned from a country that is classified by the U.S. Department of State as Level 3 Travel Advisory or above for COVID-19 are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days and not return to work. Following the self-quarantine period, employees should be cleared for return by a qualified health care professional or by Employee Health in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health. Where possible, employees are expected to telework or make other alternate work arrangements. Additional details will follow.
  • With spring break beginning March 8, many of you may have personal travel plans. We encourage you to refer to the CDC and U.S. Department of State to be fully informed of potential health risks and travel restrictions that may be in place upon your return.

Students with questions or concerns should contact University Student Health Services at (804) 828-8828. Employees with concerns should contact their health care provider.

Recommended Actions:

The symptoms associated with COVID-19 are similar to the common flu – fever, cough, shortness of breath and other breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. As with any cold or flu, it is important for everyone to follow these self-care habits to reduce the chance of infection:

  • Avoid eating or drinking after others or sharing e-cigarettes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your 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 at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

VCU Health is at the forefront of infectious disease treatment and is equipped, staffed and trained to treat patients with suspected or confirmed infection while keeping our visitors, team members and other patients safe. Visit VCU Health’s COVID-19 what to know and where to go.

More Information

Information will be updated daily on the university’s VCU Alert and VCU Health’s Covid-19 web sites, both available from the  www.vcu.edu and www.vcuhealth.org homepages. Significant changes will also be communicated to you directly through email.

Safety is our number one priority. We are committed to minimizing the health risks to our students, staff and faculty. While we do not wish to alarm our colleagues or contribute any more to public uncertainty, we believe that prompt communications with practical and timely advice is an important measure to support the safety of our community.

Sincerely,

Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health System

Peter Buckley
Senior Vice President, VCU Health Sciences and Interim CEO VCU Health System