Ohio University

Important information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Published: February 28, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The below message was shared by Executive Dean and Chief Medical Affairs Officer Kenneth H. Johnson.

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing today to update you about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Reports of this global outbreak are concerning, and our thoughts go out to members of our community who have family or loved ones who may be affected by the Coronavirus. I want to assure you that Ohio University is in close contact with local, state and federal officials to ensure that we have comprehensive emergency management plans in place.

While there are currently no confirmed cases in the State of Ohio, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we continue to monitor the guidelines and recommendations of public health officials to protect the safety and well-being of our community.

While the spread of the virus within the United States is still considered to be low risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel guidance, and out of an abundance of caution, Ohio University has temporarily restricted University-sponsored travel to countries identified as Warning Level 3 by the CDC for all faculty, staff and students, effective until further notice. An exception process is currently being evaluated and will be put into place soon.

For personal travel, and particularly as spring break approaches, we strongly advise all students, faculty and staff to follow travel alerts from the CDC. I would encourage you to check this resource frequently in your planning as the status can change quickly. 

We continue to ask all members of our campus community to employ preventive measures that will help curtail the spread of all respiratory viruses, including:

  • 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.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

There is no vaccine for any human coronavirus. The CDC reports that although carriers with no symptoms can be transmitters, human coronaviruses are most commonly spread by an infected person coughing and sneezing, close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, touching a surface with a virus on it, followed by touching the mouth, nose or eyes before washing hands, or in rare cases, fecal contamination.

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority, and we will continue to monitor this quickly evolving situation and provide updates as appropriate. One challenge in instances of a public health concern such as this is to take prudent steps while not stereotyping individuals. I am confident in our community’s compassion and concern for others as we continue to navigate this troubling situation.

Finally, I would like to thank Chief Facilities Management Officer Steve Wood and Emergency Programs Manager Jill Harris for their leadership and diligence in keeping our campus community safe and informed. I am also grateful to staff members in the Office of Global Opportunities for their swift response, guidance, and for being an exemplary resource for our campus community.

For more information about human coronavirus, prevention, and other health alerts, visit OHIO’s health alerts page, travelers health tips, and general health and safety information for University travelers. Additionally, students, faculty, staff, and visiting scholars are encouraged to visit the CDC website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices for Travel Notices and Updates.

Dr. Kenneth H. Johnson, 
Executive Dean and Chief Medical Affairs Officer