Coronavirus Update – February 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

We are writing with an update regarding global concerns about the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the recent emergence and uptick of confirmed cases in a number of countries, including the United States. PLU is continuing to use a standard set of references, including communication from the Centers for Disease Control, and our emergency planning protocols, to make informed decisions about Study Away programs and other university experiences that may be affected by the spread of the virus. We have created a webpage dedicated to sharing information and communications about Covid-19, embedded in the PLU Counseling, Health and Wellness website. We encourage you to refer to this as questions or concerns arise.

There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Pierce County. There are no special protective actions or orders currently in place for the county or the Tacoma/Parkland area.  As such, there are no special restrictions or requirements for members of the Pacific Lutheran University community.

As a reminder, following the recommended guidelines is still the most effective way to decrease your risk of infection. These standard well being behaviors include:

Here are links to versions of hand-washing posters that you are encouraged to copy and distribute in your respective work areas, even outside of bathrooms, to help remind all on campus that the best way to prevent the spread of illness is with careful hand-washing.

The CDC is encouraging individuals and communities to promote simple standards of infection control as the most effective way to prevent illness.
Choose your favorites, or others that you like better, and print them out and post them. Residence halls and dining areas are especially important.

The best way to care for our community is to practice prevention and to act from a place of compassion as you notice community members who may be impacted by the high levels of concern that this virus is creating.

We will provide another update when additional information becomes available. Please contact the Health Center if you have additional questions that are not answered through the resources provided. For study away concerns, please first refer to Wang Center communication about your specific location and related contingency plans.

Coronavirus Update - February 3, 2020

Dear campus community,

I am writing today to provide a brief update on the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak that recently has been declared a global health emergency. The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) assures us that there have been no cases of novel coronavirus in Pierce County, and that the risk to the general public remains low. PLU is aware of the new State Department Travel Advisory recommended and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the potential impact it may have on some of our international students and scholars, as well as any other members of our community who planned travel to or have traveled recently in any of the affected countries. We are working closely with a small number of individuals who may be affected by these travel limitations and are assisting them to problem-solve the challenges associated with their particular situation.

Global learning is a key feature and value of a PLU education and the university will continue to honor our commitment to caring for and engaging communities worldwide.

Per best practice, university officials continue to monitor this situation closely and are paying specific attention to notifications and updates from standard points of reference (e.g., US State Department, CDC, World Health Organization [WHO]) and in consultation with other relevant sources, such as airlines. We also will continue to work closely with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department on this rapidly developing situation and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Relevant updates will be posted to the PLU Health Center website. Additional detailed information about the Coronavirus also is available at the following websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Human Coronaviruses

Why the Current Exposure Risk Is Low From Novel Coronavirus

Since the region is still in the midst of regular flu season, the TPCHD encourages anyone who has not yet received the flu shot, to do so. There is evidence that the flu vaccine mitigates the severity of the Coronavirus, as well as other strains of the flu. The vaccine continues to be available to students in the PLU Health Center; staff and faculty should contact their health care providers or local pharmacies for the vaccine.

Developing the following everyday habits also helps to prevent the spread of any respiratory viral infection, including the flu:

  • 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.

  • 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.

The Health Center encourages students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to call for an appointment at the Health Center which is open from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. When the Health Center is closed, students should contact the after hours MultiCare nurse consulting line at 253-792-6410 or Campus Safety at 253-535-7441. Faculty and staff should consult with your primary care physician for advice and guidance.

The health and safety of our community is very important to us. We realize this is an uneasy time and that can lead to anxiety, but want to remind all Lutes that times of unease require us all to care more thoughtfully and intentionally for one another.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Hopper
Director, PLU Health Center

Important Information Regarding the Coronavirus

January 22, 2020

To the PLU community,

Many of you may be aware of the recent news of a virus coming out of China, called Novel Coronavirus 2019. It has been transmitted from an animal market to humans starting in December 2019. It originated in one specific province in China, Wuhan Province, and is implicated in ~60 hospitalizations in China. The first case in the US was announced yesterday and involves a resident of Snohomish County, north of Seattle, who has been hospitalized with pneumonia and at this point is in stable condition. He returned to the United States six days ago from a visit in Wuhan, China.

Coronavirus is a very common virus and in its simplest form causes the common cold and most influenza illnesses. In its more serious form it causes SARS and MERS. This new, or novel, version has been determined not to be SARS or MERS. It can, however, cause significant respiratory illness. Anyone traveling from Wuhan Province enters the U.S. through one of the five airports that are now screening for this virus. There is no current concern for travelers from any other part of China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington State Department of Health and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department have issued a joint statement that is attached in the following link, which we encourage you to read:

Outbreak of Pneumonia of Unknown Etiology in Wuhan, China

In addition, there is a link to general information about the flu below. Please review that information and follow its recommendations. Students can be evaluated at the Health Center, tested for Influenza A/B, and receive a flu shot if appropriate and if they haven’t already had one. We are seeing flu in those who have been immunized, but the symptoms and duration of the illness are significantly reduced compared to those who haven’t been immunized this year. 

Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick

If you’re concerned that you have developed the flu, please call for an appointment within the first 2-3 days of symptoms, especially if you’re experiencing a fever greater than 102 degrees, or chills that are hard to control with blankets and warm clothes.

If you are a student and have a cough and/or fever when you arrive at the Health Center, you’ll be instructed to wear a face mask. This will help protect other students and the Health Center staff. If you are a faculty or staff member, please contact your health provider for instructions.

As needed, we will provide updates to this communication and share advice from Tacoma Pierce County Public Health regarding ongoing response. If you are a PLU community member who has traveled recently or for any community member with immediate questions, please contact your healthcare provider, Tacoma Pierce County Public Health at 253-798-6410 or the PLU Health Center at x7337.

Be well, stay well!

Elizabeth Hopper, MN, ARNP
Director, Health Services
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services