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Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

This page will be updated as information changes. Latest updates: 2/18/20

UMBC is committed to keeping our community safe, healthy, and informed. Please check this page for updated information on COVID-19 (formerly known as the 2019-nCoV coronavirus). Please call University Health Services (UHS) at 410-455-2542 if you need medical assistance or have questions/concerns.

UMBC Status

There are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Maryland or within the UMBC community reported by the State of Maryland or the Baltimore County Health Department. If this situation changes, we will share the latest updates on this page. UHS is in contact with the Baltimore County Health Department regarding responding to the threat and will continue to consult when the need arises.

Message from Provost Rous (2/3/20): Due to elevated travel advisories, UMBC students are not permitted to travel to China on university business at this time. We also strongly discourage faculty and staff business travel to China. Faculty and staff who choose to travel to China on university business are required to meet with David Di Maria, associate vice provost for international education, to ensure that they are enrolled in UMBC’s international travel insurance and to sign an acknowledgment of risk and indemnity prior to their travel. For more information, please contact David Di Maria at 410-455-2624.

We are aware that some in our community may be affected by this outbreak, both with concern for family and colleagues living and working in affected areas, and the effects of elevated travel advisories. If you have questions about travel related to this issue, please contact David Di Maria, associate vice provost for international education, at 410-455-2624. Please also know that the campus community is eager to support you in this difficult time. If you are feeling impacted in any way by these circumstances, and need support or information, we encourage you to reach out to UHS (410-455-2542) for support or International Education Services (410-455-2624) to get clarification about any immigration policies or updates, and to share if you have any negative experiences from the way the campus community is responding to the situation.

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Background

CDC Information on COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19 (formerly known as 2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The CDC is closely monitoring the situation and is working with the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has declared the outbreak a Global Health Emergency.

The CDC considers COVID-19 a serious but not immediate health risk to the general American public. It is a new virus for humans and was first identified in China. There are 15 confirmed cases in the U.S. in Washington state, Illinois, Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and California as of February 13.

Right now, COVID-19 has not been found to be spreading widely in the United States, so CDC deems the immediate risk from this virus to the general public to be low. However, risk is dependent on exposure, and people who are in contact with people with COVID-19 are likely to be at greater risk of infection and should take the precautions outlined in CDC’s guidance for preventing spread in homes and communities.

For the general public, no additional precautions are recommended at this time beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. Right now, CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

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Campus Communications

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What UMBC is Doing

  • As directed by the University’s Emergency Operations Plan, UMBC has convened our Incident Management Team, which is now meeting regularly to coordinate UMBC’s response to both the COVID-19 virus and influenza, a current health concern in Maryland.
  • All individuals calling or visiting UHS and presenting with fever and respiratory symptoms are being screened for recent international travel or other possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Those who have traveled from China to the U.S. will be asked questions about their health and travel history. If you have traveled to Wuhan City within the past 14 days or believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing a fever with or without respiratory symptoms please call UHS or your medical provider. If you need medical assistance or have questions/concerns, please call UHS at 410-455-2542
  • Maryland currently has a high number of influenza cases and UMBC is acting to minimize the spread of influenza. These prevention processes are also applicable to safety/prevention of COVID-19. They include hand-washing protocol; elevated cleaning protocol; communication with students, faculty, and staff encouraging sick community members to remain at home and avoid public areas; prevention education posters and digital signage.
  • ABM, UMBC’s custodial contractor, is currently engaged in an elevated protocol in all areas throughout the campus and the Columbus Center. This protocol includes additional special cleaning materials (Virex TB) that eliminate virus from surfaces such as counters, doors, etc., hand wipes, and hand sanitizers in high traffic areas.
    • Facilities Management is consulting with bwtech@UMBC research park and South Campus cleaning staff on the elevated protocol.
    • Chartwells is also following elevated protocol for all dining venues.
    • UMBC Transit bus drivers and cleaning staff are also regularly using the Virex TB product used by ABM on all surfaces. Charter buses will be routinely wiped pre- and post-trip by cleaning staff.
    • ABM’s elevated protocol includes Residential Life, and Walker Avenue’s custodial contractor is following the same protocol and using the same products. Residential Life staff met with ABM to review public area cleaning. There is a daily cleaning schedule in public areas that happens during the months where colds, flu, and viruses are more prevalent, and bleach wipes are available at all front desks.
      • Residential Life also encourages students who are sick to go home to recover from illness, if possible. Resident students should contact their RA if they need help accessing meals while they are ill.
  • The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) is keeping its community updated on the current status of the coronavirus situation and sharing efforts that can be taken to keep themselves and the community safe. USG is increasing the cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms on the USG campus, purchasing additional hand sanitizing stations to place throughout campus, and purchasing a supply of masks to have on hand in the event that a member of the community requests one. They are in contact with Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services regarding responding to the threat and will continue to consult when the need arises.

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Information for People Who Have Recently Traveled to China

  • If you have recently traveled to Hubei Province/China and are experiencing fever (greater than 100 ̊F or 37.8 ̊C), cough, or difficulty breathing, report immediately to the nearest hospital emergency department. If possible, call ahead to alert the facility of your symptoms and travel history. When you arrive at the facility, notify personnel immediately of your symptoms and travel history.
  • If you have mild symptoms and a temperature below 100°F, appointments are available at UHS.

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Information for People with Underlying Health Conditions or Who Take Medicines that Suppress Their Immune System

  • If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, visit your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Get your yearly flu shot to prevent complications.

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Please remember to take the following steps to prevent the spread of cold and flu as well as to reduce the risk of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands frequently and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizing stations are located around campus.
  • Avoid contact with those who are ill, if possible.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces in your room and/or office with anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach wipes are very good).
  • Cough into your sleeve or a tissue, not directly into your hands, and wash your hands immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face both when you are ill and when healthy. This spreads germs!
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups, and water bottles.
  • It may still be helpful to get a flu shot. UHS gave out over 700 flu shots this season and while we do not have any more shots, they may be available at local pharmacies or from your primary care doctor.

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University System of Maryland Chancellor Letter

January 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I am sure you are aware that Federal, state, and local health officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV. This strain is spreading quickly across areas of China, with a few cases identified in neighboring countries. While there are currently no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV on the east coast, there are two confirmed cases in the United States—one in Washington State and another in Illinois.

Coronaviruses cause respiratory illness and trigger flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.). The 2019-nCoV has been associated with severe infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers this to be a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk to USM institutions is considered low at this time. But we want to be mindful and alert as students resume classes.

Despite the low health risk, we are providing the following information from the CDC to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

If individuals have traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, they should seek medical care right away from a healthcare provider.
Individuals are strongly encouraged to call ahead to inform healthcare providers of symptoms and recent travel history. Contact with others should be avoided until a healthcare provider has provided an evaluation.

If you visited China prior to Dec. 1, 2019, there is no risk that you have been exposed to this strain of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, there is widespread influenza activity in the region. Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the spread of flu. You can prevent the spread of many illnesses by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands often, and staying home when you feel sick.

Our office is working with a virologist within the USM who specializes in this area, and we will keep you informed of any critical updates on the spread of this virus. Please contact Vice Chancellor Joanne Boughman at jboughman@usmd.edu with questions or concerns related to this matter.

Sincerely,
Jay A. Perman
Chancellor

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