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

Can Shame become the next major Tool to change public behavior?

Beijing, the Chinese capital, has, for decades, been infamous for its heavy smog. Since 2014, the government has focused on improving the air quality. Smog related investments amount to $130 billion in support of policies designed to move away in power development from coal to cleaner energy sources.

Outdoor smog has been linked to 1.2 million premature deaths a year in China.  An outdoor concentration of pollutants of 300 units is considered detrimental to personal health. Often, however, in Beijing concentration levels exceed 500 units.

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Yet, outdoor air quality is not the only worry. Also of concern, but relatively more difficult for the government to monitor and control, is indoor air pollution, which is mainly caused by human smoking. However, only three cigarettes burning in a restaurant can result in a pollution level of 600 units, which is much higher than the typical outdoor air pollution.

To reduce such second hand smoking risk, a new law came into effect on June 1st, 2015. Violators of smoking restrictions are not only hit with fines. Repeat offenders will be named and shamed on a public government website. Anyone breaking these new regulations and policies  will now face a fine ranging from $30 for individuals to $1,600 for businesses. Repeat offenders will see their names posted on a government website for one month, alongside a list of their offences.

There are more than 300 million smokers in China. They account for nearly a third of all the smokers in the world. The Chinese government has also restricted tobacco commercials and raised the tobacco tax by 120%. The new rules are widely cast, covering economic as well as public perspectives.

A core dimension of the new law is Public shaming. Witnesses to infractions are urged to notify the government. However, most people claim they would not want to be involved and would not report violators to officials to avoid trouble. Social pressure can be exercised through shaming and is expected to make the new law more effective.
One must ponder the question: Can “shame” really work in implementing government policy? There is the walk of shame scene in TV’s“Game of Thrones”. Also, shame is not just an Asian tool.

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Jennifer Jacquet, author of Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool believes that the real power of shame can work against entire countries and can be used successfully by the weak against the strong. (Click here for Jennifer Jacquet’s interview) . She claims success for a website run by the Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 10.06.15 AMat lists the names of people who have not paid their taxes. The site targets only the top 500 delinquents, and the state has retrieved more than $395m in back taxes since it was launched in 2007.state of California th

Lately, republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush advocates the use of shame as a tool, and states that it should be used to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies. He believes that since people don’t feel ashamed of single parenting, it has become ok for young women to give birth out of wedlock and young fathers to walk away from their paternal obligations.
These examples show how shame can be used to prevent certain behavior in business and society.  Shame can take on a reduction against corruption and business fraud. It can raise the attractiveness of honesty in competition. Working to avoid shame, can lead to better weights and measurements, a concern to avoid being ridiculed by competitors and losing one’s long developed reputation. Avoiding shame by reducing, eliminating, and making up for past mistakes, can strengthen a company’s unique selling proposition and let it emerge as a seasoned competitor. Particularly in fields such as marketing, where the ‘brand’ and personal perceptions are paramount, shaming can become a major influence if not the rationale for the curative approach leading to a healing of relationships between business, government and consumers.

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The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement: One year later

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis marked the first anniversary of the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement. Within this year, U.S. exports of transportation vehicles increased significantly, achieving a 48% rise.

The Office of the USTR expects that by 2016, 95% of U.S. exports to Korea will be completely duty free. Ambassador Marantis said, “One year in, I am pleased to see that the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement is already producing promising results for U.S. businesses and workers in America’s factories, farms, and firms. As both of our economies improve, we look forward to seeing America’s growing exports to Korea support even more jobs here at home.”