Category: Messages to the Community

Title: Public Health Alert Regarding the Coronavirus

Date Published: January 24, 2020

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

We are writing to share information about an emerging outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of a well-known virus, coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. An increasing number of cases have been diagnosed in countries outside of China, including at least one case within the United States. While we are not aware of any cases in the Washington, D.C. region or on our campuses, we are sending this preliminary information to raise awareness and inform the University community.

This information is particularly important for those of you who have recently traveled from or are planning a trip to areas where transmission of this virus has been documented.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC)  recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China.  In order to help you protect yourself, it is important for all members of the campus community to:

  1. Recognize the symptoms of illness;
  2. Seek care and immediately notify the University if you have recently traveled within the affected region and are experiencing these symptoms;
  3. Always practice good hygiene, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing food, cups or utensils; and 
  4. Get a flu shot.

Symptoms

Symptoms can include a high fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, similar to what you may feel with influenza or a bad cold. The incubation period (how soon the symptoms appear from the time of first exposure) for these types of viruses is typically 10-14 days.     

Seek Care

Any member of the Georgetown community who has traveled from China within the past 14 days and is experiencing symptoms such as those described above should immediately contact Georgetown’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, at vjw6@georgetown.edu

For Students

Those who have not recently visited China but are experiencing influenza-like illness, with fever greater than 100.3, and symptoms, including cough, body aches, severe sore throat, or runny nose, should consider seeking medical attention for the possibility of the flu, especially if symptoms worsen. Please contact the Student Health Center at 202-687-2200 and identify yourself as having flu-like symptoms. Students may also consult with their regular health care provider or seek treatment at the student health provider for their program if overseas.   

For Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who are ill with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their personal physician. 

Flu Shots

While the flu shot cannot protect from this virus, we recommend that all members of the Georgetown community be vaccinated for influenza, if they have not already. For students, flu shots are still available at the Student Health Center. You can also check with your local pharmacy and physician’s office.  

Information for International Travelers

Those with upcoming travel to China should contact Marc Barbiere, Director of Emergency Management, at mb2466@georgetown.edu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued guidance for those planning to travel to China.  We urge faculty and staff on official University travel to book your travel through Georgetown Travel Services.

It is important that all travelers adhere to these procedures in order to protect the health and safety of our campus community. Georgetown will continue to monitor updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the DC Department of Health in order to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information available.

For additional information about coronavirus, including signs and symptoms, transmission and risk of exposure, and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms, please refer to the CDC website

Sincerely,

Vince WinklerPrins, MD, FAAFP
Chief Public Health Officer, and Assistant Vice President for Student Health

Marc Barbiere, MPH, CEM
Director of Emergency Management