COVID-19 Precautions and Exposure

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Should I wear a mask? — April 5

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated recommendations for the use of face coverings by the general public. For more information, click here for some additional guidance from Dr. Elizabeth Hopper, Director of the Health Center.

What should I do if an employer or someone I know is being tested? — March 19

If you must go to work, ensure you don’t have symptoms.

You should: Monitor yourself for symptoms.Practice social distancing.Stay home if you develop any symptoms.Wash your hands.

Each disease investigation is unique. When appropriate, the Health Department provides specific guidance to organizations, businesses, schools and government officials based on possible disease exposure risk.

As part of the investigation process, the Health Department notifies close contacts of a confirmed case.

We encourage as many people as possible to stay home if able. If you are a close contact of a confirmed case or are experiencing symptoms, ensure you can stay home.

What is a close contact? — March 19

Close contact is defined as:

a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case

– or –

b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

How has the University changed its campus-cleaning protocols to address the risks of the disease? — March 16

In response to COVID-19, cleaning services has twice daily Team meetings to ensure that every staff member is familiar with most up to date CDC cleaning requirements for their assigned areas and the resources needed. Staff are increasing disinfecting touch points in common use spaces to hourly with a focus on door handles, hand rails and restrooms as well as increasing the frequencies of thorough cleaning in high use spaces. Custodians are triple checking dispensers to ensure that there is always soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer available to our community.

What is the risk of exposure to COVID-19? — March 15

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global outbreak. (Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.)

Different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity. The United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response. Let’s work to reduce risk to ourselves and our communities and neighbors.

I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go? — March 15

There are several Puget Sound testing facilities newly opened by CHI Franciscan Medical Services. This link will take you to a list of the different facilities, with instructions and guidance.

What's the difference between self-quarantine and self-isolation? — March 15

Self-quarantine is when has been a direct contact of someone who has been confirmed positive for COVID-19, and for a period of 14 days.

Self-isolation is when someone develops symptoms of COVID-19, may be waiting for test results, or if not tested, waiting to recover, usually for a period of up to 7 days.

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)? — March 5

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 at least 75 countries internationally, including cases in the United States (U.S.).

According to the U.S. 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 and much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.
  • There is no vaccine yet available to prevent this infection.

NOTE: The flu has similar symptoms as COVID-19, so it should not be assumed that all sick people have COVID-19. It is also important to not discriminate against people who are sick.

How does COVID-19 spread? — March 5

Symptoms of COVID-19 primarily include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.

COVID-19 appears to  spread when a sick person coughs or sneezes within 6 feet of others. Coughing and sneezing create droplets in the air that can cause disease if you breathe them in. The virus may spread before people show symptoms.

Touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after being around someone sick with COVID-19 is also a possible but unlikely way to become infected. It may also spread by touching a surface or object with the virus on it.

What are the symptoms of this infection? — March 5

Novel Coronavirus Symptoms usually appear within 2- 14 days after exposure. Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

What do I do if I feel sick? — March 5

Monitor your symptoms closely. Remember that the likelihood is low that you have coronavirus. Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.

Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around pregnant women, infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65. If you returned from China in the last 14 days, and your arrival date was February 2 or later, you will have received instructions from the CDC and from the local or state health department. Please follow these instructions. Guidelines for travelers returning from other countries are available from the CDC.

Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

The CDC also advises you to:

  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If no soap and water is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Additionally, if you have NOT returned in the past 14 days from travel to a country with a COVID-19 outbreak OR have NOT been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 but do have fever and respiratory symptoms, please seek medical advice and call ahead to your health-care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first.

  • Students should call the Health Center at 253-535-7337 or may start with a visit through Lute Telehealth.
  • Staff and faculty should contact their primary healthcare provider.

What if I HAVE symptoms and have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or I am a traveler returning from an affected geographic area? — March 5

If you develop symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your return from personal or official travel to a country with a COVID-19 outbreak OR you have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, please take the steps listed below.

Before you go to the PLU Health Center, any clinic or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your exposure to COVID-19, your recent travel, and your symptoms. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

Seek medical care right away.

  • If you are a student call the Health Center at 253-535-7337 or your primary care provider and tell them your symptoms before coming in. You may start with a visit through Lute Telehealth.
  • Staff and faculty should contact their primary healthcare provider.

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and report your symptoms to the dispatcher.

  • Students on the campus may contact the Health Center at 253-535-7337 or your primary care provider.You may start with a visit through Lute Telehealth.
  • Staff and faculty should contact their primary healthcare provider.

What if I am a traveler returning from an affected geographic area and do NOT have symptoms? — March 5

As you are returning from a country with a COVID-19 outbreak, please plan to stay home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.

  • Stay home and away from others for 14 days
  • Self-monitor your health for symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing
  • Avoid close contact with others (at least 6 feet apart)
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water—if not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • If you become ill during the 14 days, notify theTacoma Pierce County Health Department at (800) 525-0127 and press #.

We recommend that anyone returning from a country with a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Notice check in with secondary Pacific Lutheran University contacts even if you have mild or no symptoms.

What if I am sick with COVID-19 or have been tested for it and don’t know the results? — March 5

If you are sick with COVID-19 or your health care provider suspects you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and you have been tested, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water—if not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms
    • Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.
    • If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

What is the treatment for COVID-19? — March 5

According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

What should I do if I have an underlying health condition or am immunosuppressed? — March 5

According to the Washington State Department of Health, people with preexisting health conditions are at higher risk to develop complications from a COVID-19 infection. Your health is the top priority, so public health officials may recommend that you stay home if there are more community infections. The Department of Health has created guidelines to help you plan and prepare in the event of needing to limit time in public or if you become sick. Your health care team can also assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and your household.

Are there steps individuals, families and communities can take to help prepare if there is widespread transmission of COVID-19? — March 5

The CDC has a guide for individuals, families, and communities on prevention and mitigation of the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. These steps include many of those listed above for personal health, as well as others relevant for broader community efforts.

I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do? — March 5

We understand that some community members are concerned. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to students through campus mental health services:

You can help prevent the spread of colds and other viral ailments by doing the following:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

I have family and friends in an area directly affected by COVID-19. How can I manage my concern for them? — March 5

If you have family or friends in an area affected by COVID-19, you may have concerns about them. We encourage you to be in contact with them. It is also helpful to stay informed and up to date by monitoring the CDC website. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available:

How should I clean and disinfect communal spaces? — March 5

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, tables, keyboards light switches). Use a disinfectant registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a 10% bleach/water solution to clean surfaces. Please avoid putting disinfectant gels or liquids on electronics and other equipment, including elevator buttons, unless they have been indicated as safe to use on those devices.

How does PLU clean and disinfect? — March 5

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How is PLU managing COVID-19? — March 5

The PLU Emergency Management Team is in direct contact with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and is working on contingency plans for all possible scenarios associated with spread of the virus. Counseling, Health and Wellness Services is following strict guidelines developed by public health officials for care of students who have concerns about COVID-19. PLU employees should work with their healthcare provider for questions about COVID-19. The Human Resources department is available to help employees with questions about their healthcare benefits and resources.

How can you make a mask?

Learn some easy options for making face coverings to use when in public.