Student Wellness Services  /  Health  /  Coronavirus Information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Updated Information About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - 2/17/2020

Please note: there is currently no identified risk on the Caltech campus, and the risk to the general population remains low.

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an official name for the disease that is causing the current outbreak of coronavirus disease, COVID-19. We will be updating our website to reflect the updated name.


Caltech continues to follow the guidance of the Pasadena Public Health Department, as well as monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for travelers from China arriving in the United States.

We encourage all community members to continue to follow the CDC recommendations:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) or wear a mask when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Do this frequently, and certainly after sneezing, coughing, or before/after touching your face.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick.
  • Get an influenza vaccine if you have not already done so.

Update 2/5/2020

Caltech continues to work closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department and is following guidance released on February 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the risk assessment of individuals with potential COVID-19 exposure due to travel or contact with infected persons.

The information and resources in this email are being shared on a precautionary basis; Caltech Student Wellness Services and Human Resources staff are monitoring this rapidly evolving situation closely and will provide regular updates on Caltech's COVID-19 Information page and in the weekly Ion Caltech community emails.

According to the CDC, travelers who had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have visited the Hubei province of China within the last 14 days are reasonably believed to have a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 based on the scope and magnitude of the epidemic in those areas. If you have visited the Hubei province within the last 14 days:

  • Students should contact Student Wellness Services (626-395-6393) to receive further instructions.
  • Faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, visitors, and other affiliates should contact their primary care physician for further instructions, as well as notify Dr. John Tsai, Medical Director of Student Wellness Services (626-395-6393), to ensure that the Institute can offer appropriate assistance during any quarantine period.

Travelers who have visited mainland China within the last 14 days, entering the United States prior to February 3 and absent respiratory symptoms, fever, or contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are not subject to a self-quarantine period. Students, Faculty and Staff must follow the Institute's guidelines regarding nondiscrimination as outlined in the Nondiscrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity policy.

Managers and supervisors seeking further guidance on addressing potential issues with employees should reference the Temporary Personnel Memorandum on the Human Resources website.

The U.S. Department of State has elevated its travel advisory to Level 4: Do Not Travel to China. The CDC recommendation as of 02/03/2020 and going forward is for travelers from mainland China outside Hubei Province who were not exposed to a person with COVID-19 infection, to remain at home or in a comparable setting to the extent possible and avoid areas where large groups of people congregate, limit public activities, and practice social distancing. These travelers will be under Department of Public Health monitoring. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also placed a temporary ban on entry into the United States for foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents) who have been to mainland China in the last 14 days.

Additionally, we are advising you get a flu shot to protect against influenza and to follow these CDC actions that help prevent the spread of all viruses, including COVID-19:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) or wear a mask when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Do this frequently, and certainly after sneezing, coughing, or before/after touching your face.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick.
  • Get an influenza vaccine if you have not already done so.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Update 2/4/2020

As of February 4, 2020, there continues to be no identified risk of COVID-19 on the Caltech campus.

Frequently asked questions have been published.

Update 1/31/2020

As of January 31, 2020, there continues to be no identified risk of COVID-19 on the Caltech campus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the 2019 novel Coronavirus outbreak (renamed COVID-19 on February 11, 2020) to be Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against travel to China.

The situation continues to change quickly and as of today, there are about 10,000 cases and 200 fatalities. There are 6 confirmed cases in the United States with one person to person transmission between close contacts.

The risk to the general population continues to be low. There are no restrictions for people who are not ill. Please consult public health departments at local, state, national and international levels for accurate information and official recommendations.

The actions individuals persons can take are:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you are ill with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have traveled recently, call Student Wellness Services at (626) 395-6393 and report your situation along with leaving a contact phone number. Stay in your room, wear a mask if you leave your room but avoid public settings. We will call you back and give you instructions.

Additionally, American Airlines and Delta Airlines have announced that they will be temporarily suspending flights to China. Please visit their official newsrooms for more information:

American Airlines - http://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2020/American-Airlines-Update-on-China-Flights-OPS-DIS/default.aspx

Delta Airlines - https://news.delta.com/delta-temporarily-suspend-all-us-china-flying

Update 1/29/2020

As of January 29, 2020, there continues to be no identified risk of COVID-19 on the Caltech campus.

The Centers for Disease Control advises avoiding all nonessential travel to all of China. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china

The number of cases in China continues to increase and the number of confirmed cases in the United States remains at 5. All the cases in the US involve people who had travel from Wuhan, China.

Per the Los Angeles Department of Public Health: Despite the case in Los Angeles County, there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the county. The risk from COVID-19 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.

Caltech Student Wellness Services has received questions and evaluated students with concerns. We thank the campus community for its cooperation during this time. We continue to monitor the situation and work closely with public health officials as this situation evolves.

Update 1/27/2020

As of January 27, 2020, there is no identified risk of COVID-19 on the Caltech campus.

The situation involving the novel Coronavirus infection (renamed COVID-19 on February 11, 2020) is changing and evolving rapidly as 5 cases have been confirmed in the United States with one in Los Angeles County and one in Orange County. The risk level is still low per public health officials. It is important to read official announcements from public health agencies.

Los Angeles County Public Health Department: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/

California Department of Public Health: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/nCOV2019.aspx

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

(If these links are not current, go to the organization homepage and search COVID-19.)

Caltech Student Wellness Services continues to monitor the situation closely. We are working with the Pasadena Department of Public Health and following their guidance and instructions.

If you have symptoms of respiratory illness and have traveled to Wuhan, China recently or had contact with a confirmed case, please call Student Wellness Services (626-395-6393) and relay the circumstances along with your contact number. We will call you and give you instructions for your care. Please also contact Student Wellness Services with questions or concerns.

Update 1/24/2020

  • Your health and the health of the public are the most important concerns regarding illness caused by COVID-19, originating in Wuhan, China.
  • Criteria from the CDC for patients who may be ill with COVID-19 from Wuhan, China are fever AND lower respiratory illness (cough or difficulty breathing) AND recent travel in Wuhan China or contact with known suspected cases of this new infection.

What to do:

  1. Please call before going to a healthcare facility. Please contact Caltech Student Wellness Services (626) 395-6393 if you are ill or have concerns. If the center is closed, contact the local hospital emergency room. Please state your symptoms and your travel history.
  2. Prior to your evaluation, you should avoid being in communal settings such as public areas and public transportation. You should wear a face mask when not in a private room and generally avoid other people. You should cover your coughs or sneezes, wash hand frequently, and avoid sharing food, drink, utensils or other items that may have oral or respiratory secretions.
  3. You will be evaluated in a private room with both you and the healthcare provider wearing masks. The instructions from the local public health department will be followed for any further testing or management.
    • There is currently no specific viral treatment or vaccine for this new virus. Treatment is directed towards your symptoms. Please contact the healthcare facility if you feel worse.
    • Evaluation is important so you have proper care and the spread of this infection can be limited.

Precautionary Information About COVID-19 - January 24, 2020

In December 2019, the World Health Organization learned of unusual respiratory infections occurring in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province of China. On January 7, 2020, health authorities identified the cause as a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory-tract illnesses, such as the common cold, with symptoms that last only a short time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Cases of individuals presenting infections with COVID-19 are being reported in a growing number of countries, including in the United States. It is not yet known how easily the virus spreads between people.

Please note: there is currently no identified risk on the Caltech campus.

The information and resources in this email are being shared on a precautionary basis; Caltech Student Wellness Services and Human Resources staff are monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates as they are warranted. Staff are working closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department and following their guidance.

This situation is evolving rapidly and, for now, we are advising you to follow these CDC preventive actions:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) or wear a mask when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Do this frequently, and certainly after sneezing, coughing, or before/after touching your face.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick.
  • Avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China
  • Travelers to Wuhan should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat). Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should avoid travel to Wuhan or other affected areas if possible.

In addition, we are asking all Caltech students who have traveled to Wuhan in the past month AND have respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) to please contact Student Wellness Services (626-395-6393) or their healthcare provider. Please call Student Wellness Services first before coming to the Center so we can make appropriate arrangements.

For all other community members, please contact your primary care physician if you have traveled to Wuhan in the past month AND have respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing). Please follow your treating provider's recommendations for seeking care.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


FAQs

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), renamed by the World Health Organization on February 11, 2020, is a respiratory illness caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with COVID-19.

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Because this novel coronavirus is a strain that had previously not been found in humans, its health impact is currently being closely monitored internationally, nationally, and locally, by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Pasadena Public Health Department, among others.

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, symptoms include fever (38°C/100.4 °F), cough, and shortness of breath.
Those with chronic underlying medical conditions appear to be at high risk for serious complications.

Runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and diarrhea are NOT common symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.

Although this virus probably originally emerged from an animal source, it now seems to be spreading from person to person. It is important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it's unclear how easily or sustainably COVID-19 is spreading between people.

Information about transmission is evolving and is being closely investigated by CDC and the World Health Organization.

As of this time, there continues to be no identified risk of COVID-19 on the Caltech campus. Per the Los Angeles Department of Public Health: There is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the county. The risk from COVID-19 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.

Caltech is working closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department, as well as following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have launched a poster campaign in our residential living spaces as well as across campus to encourage recommended hygiene practices such as hand washing and staying home when ill. We continue to update the community through email communications, Ion Caltech, and the Student Wellness Services website. There are no confirmed cases impacting the Institute at this time, and no current identified risk to the campus.

Classes will proceed as usual, and we do not anticipate cancellations of campus events and programs with the possible exceptions of those involving people who need to travel from China.

Prevention measures are similar to those utilized against the common cold and flu, which are currently infecting large numbers of people in California and throughout the United States.

  • Get a flu shot. We strongly recommend that everyone obtain seasonal flu vaccination. While there is no vaccine currently to prevent COVID-19, influenza is currently in widespread circulation in California, and initial symptoms can be similar to COVID-19. Any illness right now can increase anxiety and concerns.
    • Students can contact Student Wellness Services at (626) 395-6393 to get a flu shot. Staff, faculty and postdocs should contact their healthcare provider to receive the flu shot.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not share food and drinks.
  • Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently (e.g. doorknobs, desks, phones).
  • If you can, avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Read more about COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment.

The CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks among the general public. While limited person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.

Surgical face masks are disposable, loose-fitting, and do not form a tight seal to the face. They are not designed to capture a large percentage of small particles, which means that they cannot prevent the wearer from breathing in or expelling airborne particles that may be transmitted by talking, coughs or sneezes. These masks are most effective if infected individuals wear them; they are able to control large droplets of respiratory secretions given off when the wearer talks, sneezes, or coughs.

Please see the CDC guidelines for travelers from China. If you are or become ill, we ask that you contact Student Wellness Services by phone at (626) 395-6393 for further instructions.

If you were in China and become sick with a fever (38°C/100.4 °F) or a cough within 14 days after you left China, please follow the following advice. (If you are experiencing a medical emergency (e.g., shortness of breath, chest pain), call 911 immediately.)

  • Seek medical advice right away. Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Students should immediately notify Student Wellness Services by calling (626) 395-6393.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • If you have active respiratory symptoms, please wear a mask, if possible.

At this time, diagnostic testing for COVID-19 can be conducted only by CDC or a select number of qualified laboratories.

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness within 14 days after travel from China, or have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state's public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

All members of the Caltech community with personal health concerns related to COVID-19 should contact Student Wellness Services. While Student Wellness Services only provides medical care to students, our team is actively involved in assessing risk for all campus community members and is working closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department to determine next steps. In addition to notifying SWS, non-student community members should also contact their primary healthcare provider to obtain medical care if showing signs of illness.

What if I am not feeling well?

  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not report to work or attend classes if you are ill.
  • If you are ill, please know that it is highly likely that you have either a cold or the flu. The number of active influenza cases is currently very high, and over 10 million people in the U.S. have been sick with the flu this year. Please contact Student Wellness Services or your healthcare provider for assistance.

For medical emergencies: Call 911

Students who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to the virus, concerns about family in China, or your personal health may visit Student Counseling Services for consultation and support. Call (626) 395-8331 to arrange an appointment. Caltech employees and postdocs may utilize the Staff and Faculty Consultation Center. Please call (626) 395-8360.

Coronaviruses do not live very long on surfaces, so handling packages from China is considered to be very low risk. There has been no evidence to support the spread of the virus through imported goods.

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