In recent days, all of us have been prayerfully monitoring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. On Monday, a task force of Taylor University administrators, faculty, staff members, and local healthcare officials met to consider our best steps forward. In addition, our International Crisis Response Team has been meeting and monitoring this situation.
To date, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has sickened people in countries around the world, including the United States. We have learned from the Indiana Department of Health that Indiana does not have any confirmed COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 is NOT currently spreading in the community. The Centers for Disease Control advises the immediate health risk for the general public from COVID-19 is considered low. This site monitors the worldwide spread of the virus: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
However, because the risk of exposure to this new coronavirus globally is increasing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency to allow local, state, and federal officials to fully coordinate responses in partnership with public health departments, emergency management teams, airports, health care professionals and first responders.
To date, and in addition to monitoring and planning, Taylor University has responded to the virus by cancelling a spring semester study-abroad trip to China, where the illness was first discovered. Additionally, members of our community who traveled in China received medical clearance before returning to campus. We are also in close communication with all partners whose programs include Taylor students.
Future impact may include planned Spring Break travel, although at this time, no decision has been made. The entire community is expected to comply with Department of State guidelines regarding international travel (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/), and to take appropriate measures for domestic travel. Taylor University will not send individuals or groups to countries designated as Level 3 by either the U.S. Department of State or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As referenced above, the spring semester program to China was cancelled when it reached Level 3.
Facts we currently have for COVID-19 are as follows, but are subject to change as developments continue:
The illness is highly contagious and has an incubation period of 14 days, and spreads through:
- Contact with droplets from an infected person’s sneeze, cough, or saliva
- Caring for an infected person
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to influenza and include:
- Difficulty breathing
According to the Indiana Department of Health, the following preventative measures are recommended:
- If you have symptoms that include fever, a cough, and/or difficulty breathing, please see the Taylor University Health Center or your primary care provider ASAP.
- If you are feeling sick (especially a fever), please consider whether or not to come to work.
- 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. Help young children do the same.
- 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.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
- Get a flu shot – it’s not too late to be protected against influenza.
- Be aware that facemasks are not needed for the general public.
There are some news outlets that have highlighted attacks against Asian people that appear to be motivated by fear of the coronavirus. Taylor University is committed to treating all individuals as equal image-bearers of Jesus Christ and therefore condemns any act of xenophobia or racism. We will continue to support all faculty, staff and students whose home countries have been affected.
A dedicated email account for the International Crisis Response Team to field your questions about COVID-19 and Taylor University has been created: ICRT@taylor.edu. Also, a webpage on the www.taylor.edu site dedicated to COVID-19 alerts and developments is forthcoming.
For additional information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.