March 10, 2020: Health Advisory
To Members of the Stritch Community:
During the past week, many members of the Community utilized Spring Break for travel internationally or to other parts of the country to spend time with friends and family. Though we all sincerely hoped that such travel would not result in any exposure to our students, staff and faculty from those who might be infected in various global or domestic “hot spots,” we have been advised that three of our students living in a residence hall have been identified as having had direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person. Upon their return from spring break, the students did not attend any classes; nor did they move through any common areas on campus – e.g., the Student Union, Library, Great Hall, Field House and the like.
Please Note: These students are all symptom free at this point in time. They have not been diagnosed as having COVID-19.
In an abundance of caution, the students have been moved to an isolation setting for the next 14 days. The North Shore Health Department has been contacted and is working closely with the University to manage and direct their care.
COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. Because it is a new virus, there is no immunity to it at this time; nor is there a vaccine available. In addition, federal and State governments are still in the process of preparing testing mechanisms to confirm whether someone has contracted the virus. Further, given the trajectory of cases to date, it is expected that many more may already have been exposed, or will be exposed, to the virus in the weeks ahead, especially as students return to their own institutions in the Greater Milwaukee Area, following their own Spring Breaks.
In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, we are requesting your immediate attention to and compliance with the following – not only to ensure your own well-being, but the well-being of others in the Community:
- The virus has been identified in multiple countries, including the U.S. If you have traveled internationally to China, Japan, Iran, Italy, South Korea; or domestically to Seattle, Boston, New York or California in the past two weeks, please notify the Stritch Health Services at x4097 immediately so we can ensure that you take the steps necessary to self-isolate yourself at home or in the designated campus space for 14 days.
- If you have traveled to any of the high-risk areas noted above and develop symptoms – including fever, cough, trouble breathing during the two weeks following your travel to these areas, please seek immediate medical advice. Call the office of your health care provider and Stritch Health Services before you go and inform each about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions regarding how to get care without exposing other people to your illness.
- Again, there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 at this time. As a result, it is critical that you do all that is necessary to reduce the possibility of spreading the illness: avoid contact with others, stay home or in the designated isolation space, and postpone any travel.
Stritch Health Services is encouraging all members of the Stritch Community to take the following steps to stay healthy, protect one’s own well-being and that of others by engaging in the following preventive actions:
- 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 face – 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 and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Get a flu vaccine.
Additional information on COVID-19 is available from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/COVID19. For more information or questions, contact the Cardinal Stritch Student Health Center at 414-410-4097.
For those members of the staff and faculty who have compromised immune systems, other underlying health concerns, family members with underlying health concerns, or who are older members of the Community (e.g., CDC recommends 60 years/older), please know that we are prepared to support your work from home during the next couple of weeks as we monitor the spread of this virus. Please contact your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources to review the next steps connected to your work from home.
For all Stritch students: please know that we will be daily monitoring the spread of this virus to determine when/if the delivery of all classes via Canvas is necessary. However, for students who do have underlying health conditions that could be compromised further during the spread of this illness, please contact the Office of Student Affairs or the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs as soon as possible so that we can review the next steps you should take to meet your academic obligations via Canvas. For those of you who need to stay home, but who are currently involved in field placements for student teaching, clinical placements for Nursing or Clinical Psychology, or internships via the Stritch Experience, please contact your Dean or program supervisor as soon as possible. We are working closely with school districts, health care sites and local businesses to ensure that we are taking the steps necessary to keep you and others as reasonably safe as possible.
Regarding athletic events and other campus-based programs: we will be keeping you informed regarding what events may need to be canceled and/or rescheduled in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
This is not a time to panic. It is, however, a time to be attentive, serious and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a Community to care for ourselves and for one another. Please be attentive to all emails and/or Stritch Communications addressing COVID-19 and additional steps we will be taking to contain the spread of this virus.
Kathleen A. Rinehart, J.D.