2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for the Pacific Lutheran University Campus Community

Last Updated March 12

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the United States (U.S.).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

There have been NO reported cases of COVID-19 on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.

Symptoms and transmission

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing in the last 14 days:

You should:

  • Seek medical care right away. 
    • If you are a student, call the PLU Health Center at 253-535-7337  or your primary care provider and tell them your symptoms before coming in.
    • If you are an employee, contact your local health care provider or other medical resources available via employee benefits.
  • Before you go to any clinic or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and report your symptoms to the dispatcher.

Travel recommendations

Current CDC Travel Health Notices

The CDC currently has an avoid essential travel advisory for Europe, China, Iran, and South Korea.

If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to China with their healthcare provider.

We urge all PLU community members who are planning on travel to countries with known cases of Coronavirus to speak with their healthcare providers and to exercise appropriate illness prevention precautions.


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus. The most effective prevention at this time is to avoid exposure. You can visit the CDC “What You Should Do” Website for detailed information. A summary of this information is below.

The CDC recommends the following actions to minimize your risks:

  • Stay informed and up-to-date by monitoring the CDC website.
  • Get vaccinated for influenza (the flu) and other respiratory diseases.
  • 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 with 60% alcohol.
  • 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.
  • If you think you are sick, call your primary care provider first for assistance.

There are also several actions the CDC recommends not taking:

  • Do not travel to Europe, China, Iran, and South Korea.
  • Do not use face masks. CDC does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV.
  • Do not show prejudice to people of Asian descent out of fear for this new virus. Do not assume that someone of Asian descent is more likely to have the virus.

Prevention posters from the CDC to download, print and share

What is the risk to the United States?

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. This situation is evolving rapidly as more information becomes available. While this is a serious public health threat, the risk to the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, is considered low at this time. The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to detect new cases quickly and prevent further spread of COVID-19 in this country.

The CDC, the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, and other healthcare agencies are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance. Members of the PLU community can follow the CDC website for the most current information and updates.

What is the campus doing about 2019-nCoV?

The Pacific Lutheran University Health Center team is in direct contact with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. PLU Counseling, Health & Wellness Services is taking precautions to identify any presumptive cases in students as early as possible. The Human Resources Department can answer questions about different medical resources available to employees as a benefit. These medical resources are well suited to answering specific questions about COVID-19.

There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Pierce County area. PLU is moving to distance learning for students. Continuation of services to support our students is being implemented.

Events of more than 250 people have been prohibited by the state.

Standard well-being behaviors such as hand-washing with soap and water, covering coughs with disposable tissues, and limiting exposure to work or class if you have fever and cough and shortness of breath are recommended for all members of the PLU community.

For those showing symptoms refer to the ‘If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing in the last 14 days.

Contact Information

Counseling, Health & Wellness Services
Phone: 253-535-7337

Alternative Phone: 253-535-7838

Email: hopperea@plu.edu

Wang Center for Global Education
Phone: 253-535-7577
Email: wang.center@plu.edu

PLU Study Away Information

In early January, the Wang Center, in partnership with university officials, formed a Crisis Management Team dedicated to the COVID-19 outbreak and its implications for the safety of students, faculty, and staff participating in programs abroad and locally.

Healthcare Resources

Important Resources