COVID-19 Update: Public Health Alert Regarding Travel from Europe

To help clarify misunderstandings, here is a new policy position paper dealing with Covid-19 from our chief public health officer.  Yes, there have been significant losses attributable to this health care threat, but it pays off in understanding when one compares the losses in lives, property, and steadiness of soul from, say, the bubonic plague or the great influenza epidemic.

We must reorient ourselves and our outlooks and let us pray that we do so in a spirit of future prosperity, which links us together under new conditions of social distancing. There will be changes, new playbooks, playing fields and even new games and rules, but we can expect to help us and others in achieving renewed success. May God bless you and all of our partners.

Please check this message below from Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, Georgetown University Chief Public Health Officer:

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

I am writing today to provide an update regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the release of new federal guidance for those who have recently traveled to the United States from Europe,“Travelers returning from the specified countries in Europe must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.” No one returning from any of these countries—including student, faculty, staff or visitor —should come to campus before completing at least a 14-day self quarantine in an off-campus residence.

This guidance applies to all countries designated as Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to COVID-19. Newly designated countries now include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.

As a reminder, all university-sponsored travel has been suspended for faculty, staff and students until further notice, and beginning Monday, March 16, the university is moving to a virtual learning environment and, as a consequence, is also moving to an operating status of a telework flexible environment. 

Please refer to Georgetown’s travel guidance on our website

We know that we have many members of our community with friends and family members who may be impacted by the virus. We encourage anyone who might need support to reach out to university resources, including the Office of Campus Ministry, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP).

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work through this evolving public health emergency. You can find all university updates, answers to frequently asked questions and other resources related to coronavirus on the Georgetown University website.

Sincerely,

Vince WinklerPrins, MD, FAAFP

Chief Public Health Officer

COVID-19 Public Health Alert: Case Being Treated at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

This is a message from Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, Georgetown University Chief Public Health Officer on March 9, 2020.

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community,

As you may know, DC Health has announced the District’s first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have learned that our clinical partner, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH), is caring for a patient who has been diagnosed through laboratory and clinical assessment for the COVID-19 virus. The care is being directed by a specialized team of clinicians trained to treat patients with a variety of communicable diseases.

DC Health is coordinating closely with MGUH, where the patient is currently being treated and all infection control protocols are fully implemented. This includes measures that ensure patient isolation, the use of protective equipment and the deployment of infection control and sterilization measures.

While no one in the Georgetown community has tested positive for COVID-19, MGUH is working closely with the CDC and DC Health and following all CDC protocols for patients and any staff and medical students who may have been impacted. Their health and safety is our top priority.  

Since January, Georgetown University has convened regular leadership meetings on this issue, activated an Emergency Response Team and has coordinated closely with DC Health, colleagues at MGUH and higher education partners. We have sent regular updates to the community, all of which are posted on an informational website along with other resources for our community.

We will continue to provide regular updates as we take additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Earlier this week, all of our faculty members and academic staff were given resources on how to prepare for instructional continuity in the event we need to move to an online teaching environment.

We recognize this announcement may cause great concern and anxiety for members of our community. We encourage anyone who might need support to reach out to university resources, including the Office of Campus Ministry, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

As we have shared previously, the CDC and DC Health recommend the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when feeling sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and update you as needed. Please be aware that we are working in a rapidly changing environment, and we may need to amend our policies on short notice.

You can find all university updates, answers to frequently asked questions and other resources related to coronavirus on the Georgetown University website.

Sincerely,

Vince WinklerPrins, MD, FAAFP

Chief Public Health Officer

From a student and friend at the NIH regarding the novel Coronavirus

I write today to provide an update on our continuing response to the new coronavirus. While there have been no reported cases with any connection to Georgetown, we are monitoring the situation closely and taking a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Some of these steps include:

  • Staying in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DC Department of Health to ensure we are acting in accord with their guidance and recommendations;
  • Proactively reaching out to members of the university community who may have traveled from China in recent weeks to ensure they are aware of university resources and symptoms of coronavirus, and urging them to seek care and contact me if they are feeling sick;
  • Launching a public awareness campaign in our dormitories and public restrooms to encourage good hygiene, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and to ensure all hand sanitizers across campus are full and in good working order; and
  • Creating a university website that includes frequently asked questions and additional information about coronavirus and the university response and resources. We will continue to update this website regularly as the situation develops.

For Faculty:
As you know, we are also at the height of flu season, with an estimated 15 million cases currently in the U.S. Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage you to proactively inform your students that if they are feeling sick or have the flu or flu-like symptoms, then they should consider staying home. Instructional continuity plans may need to be considered.

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

Key Words: Coronavirus, NIH, Healthcare, International Travel, safety, Security, Infections, a global epidemic, Multidexterity of Protection, Safety and National Security.