February 4, 2020

Coronavirus Update

Student Health and Counseling Services

Dear Oberlin College community,

As promised, we wish to keep you up-to-date regarding the novel coronavirus and events on campus.

The Ohio Department of Health has stated that there are zero confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state and 11 confirmed cases in the United States.

Late yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised the guidelines governing the evaluation of people who recently traveled from China and are demonstrating flu-like symptoms. Based upon these revised public health guidelines, one Oberlin student was temporarily placed in isolation in off-campus housing.

Yesterday morning, a student with a low-grade fever visited Student Health Services for evaluation. Following protocol, Student Health Services contacted Lorain County Public Health, which traveled to campus to evaluate the student. Officials decided the student did not meet the criteria to be considered a person under investigation for novel coronavirus, but it was determined that the student should be temporarily isolated off campus overnight before returning to campus this morning.

Barring a change in health status, the student will remain in isolated housing and participate in classes remotely until February 15. Meals will be delivered. Also as a matter of protocol, the student’s dorm room was sanitized and their roommate, who has no symptoms of illness, was allowed to remain in their room.

The College will continue to collaborate with Lorain County Public Health and the Ohio Department of Health with regard to the coronavirus. Please remember it is far more likely that college students, and all Ohioans, will contract seasonal flu than the coronavirus. 

As a reminder, everyone can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and public health professionals recommend that we:

  • wash our hands often with soap and water; if that is not possible, use hand sanitizer
  • cover our mouth and nose with our sleeve or a tissue when we sneeze or cough
  • avoid close contact (touching or shaking hands) with people who are sick
  • avoid touching our mouth, nose, and eyes
  • stay home when we are sick

As the health and safety of our campus community is our highest priority, the College is taking additional steps.

We are providing hand sanitizer stations in residential areas and public spaces throughout campus. Personal-use hand sanitizers for students and employees will be made available through student health and other locations on campus. Signs have been posted reminding people to wash their hands and practice good hygiene. The College also is increasing the frequency of services to clean and disinfect high-use areas. Disinfectant wipes are available to clean common-use items such as public computers, desktops, and pianos and other instruments.

The coronavirus is primarily spread through respiration, which means to become infected, people generally must be within 6 feet of someone who is coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of the coronavirus appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization.

Some members of our community have chosen to wear masks in public which, while not necessary, is completely acceptable. If you see someone wearing a mask, please do not be alarmed.

The CDC continues to say that the risk for coronavirus in the U.S. is low. One of the biggest challenges in instances of a public health concern is to take prudent steps while not stereotyping individuals. Please remember to be considerate to others as we seek to address concerns about this disease.

We are communicating often to address events as they unfold, but we do not expect there will be an ongoing need for daily updates.

For more information, please see our coronavirus FAQ page and the archive of previous messages on this topic that have been sent to the community. To submit a question, please send email to Health.Info@oberlin.edu.

Sincerely,

John Harshbarger
Director, Student Health and Counseling Services


February 1, 2020

Coronavirus Update

Office of the President

Dear Oberlin College community,

I know that many of you are understandably interested in news regarding the novel coronavirus. You’ve already received two messages from the college on this matter; in an effort to keep our campus community informed, we plan to continue communicating with you frequently until the coronavirus is no longer of public concern.

In that spirit, I am writing to tell you about a situation that took place last night. Out of an abundance of caution, a student with a cough contacted the Office of Campus Safety and requested transport to the hospital for evaluation. Medical professionals at Mercy Health Lorain and Lorain Public County Health monitored the student for an appropriate period and determined today that the symptoms were no cause for concern. The student was then cleared to return to their residence.

There are currently no suspected cases of 2019 novel coronavirus on Oberlin’s campus nor in Lorain County.

Everyone can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and public health professionals recommend we:

  • wash our hands often with soap and water
  • cover our mouth and nose with our sleeve or a tissue when we sneeze or cough
  • avoid close contact (touching or shaking hands) with people who are sick
  • avoid touching our mouth, nose, and eyes
  • stay home when we are sick

As the health and safety of our campus community is our highest priority, the College is taking additional steps.

We are providing hand sanitizer stations in residential areas and public spaces throughout campus. Personal-use hand sanitizers for students and employees will be made available through student health and other locations on campus. Signs have been posted reminding people to wash their hands and practice good hygiene. The College also is increasing the frequency of services to clean and disinfect high-use areas. Disinfectant wipes are available to clean common-use items such as public computers, desktops, and pianos and other instruments.

The CDC continues to say that the risk for coronavirus in the U.S. is low, and the College is closely watching worldwide developments, monitoring updates daily from the CDC, and is collaborating with local and state public health agencies. One of the biggest challenges in instances of a public health concern is to take prudent steps while not stereotyping individuals. I am confident that our compassion and concern will carry the day.

For more information, please see our coronavirus FAQ page and the archive of previous messages on this topic that have been sent to the community. To submit a question, please send email to Health.Info@oberlin.edu.

As we begin the spring semester, please use this opportunity to take care of each other and protect the health of our Oberlin community.

President Carmen Twillie Ambar


January 31, 2020

Letter and FAQs about Coronavirus

Office of Communications

Dear Oberlin College community,

Welcome back to Oberlin. We return to campus as news about the novel coronavirus continues to develop, and some of you are expressing understandable concern about whether and how this virus might impact us on campus and in town.

The health and safety of all members of our campus community is the highest priority. Oberlin College is communicating with Lorain County Public Health and is tracking developments in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV infection) centered in Wuhan, China. The coronavirus causes a pneumonia-like illness with cough and shortness of breath in addition to fever and general malaise.

Currently, there are no suspected cases of the coronavirus on Oberlin's campus and the risk for 2019-nCoV infection in the U.S. is low. The Ohio Department of Health says no additional precautions are recommended for the general public. The College is nevertheless closely watching worldwide developments, monitoring updates daily from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and following all recommendations from local and state public health agencies and the American College Health Association (ACHA).

The best thing all of us can do to ensure a healthy campus community is to stay home when demonstrating specific symptoms of active infection. This advice is especially helpful given influenza activity in the United States, which has infected 15 million people in the United States so far this year (the coronavirus has infected 8,200 worldwide in comparison, though the numbers continue to climb).

One of the biggest challenges in instances of public health concern is to address fears while remaining conscious of the individual impact of measures that may seem reassuring but have no public health benefit. At this time, public health authorities recommend that individuals who have traveled to affected areas and 1) are showing symptoms or 2) may have been in contact with infected individuals remain isolated in their residences.

For information on the novel coronavirus, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. We will provide ongoing updates via email and posts at https://www.oberlin.edu/news/coronavirus-resources. Meanwhile, we have compiled some frequently asked questions below for your reference.

Thank you.

John Harshbarger
Director, Student Health and Counseling Services

Meredith Raimondo
VP and Dean of Students

Coronavirus Information: Question and Answers

January 31, 2020. For the latest information, visit the Coronavirus FAQ.

What are the symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus?

They can be similar to the flu or cold: fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

What steps are being taken to protect students from the novel coronavirus?

We have no reason at this time to believe anyone on our campus is infected with the novel coronavirus and we will update you as appropriate. Please visit the CDC website for further information. Oberlin College will continue to monitor the situation and postings will be sent out as needed. Please call Student Health Services (440-775-8180) or Lorain County Public Health (440-322-6367) if you have any questions. Thank you for helping us keep our community well.

Is the College screening students?

There are currently no recommendations for screening healthy people returning from China or any other country other than what is occurring at airports.

Does the College plan to distribute masks?

Neither the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health nor Lorain County Public Health recommend distributing masks at this time. If this changes, we will reassess the situation.

What should I do if I become ill with fever, cough or shortness of breath after traveling to China and returning to Oberlin

If you have traveled in or through known affected areas in the past 14 days and have any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office, contact Oberlin Student Health Services at 440-775-8180 or Mercy Allen Hospital at 440-775-1211, if Student Health Services is closed. If you need to be seen by a health-care provider, you will be advised on where to go and how to get there. If you have severe symptoms, you will be advised to go to Mercy Allen Emergency Room. If you are ill, do not go to class or public gatherings. Do not travel.

Students who choose to remain in their assigned campus residence due to illness should call the Dean of Students office at 440-775-8462 during business hours for assistance, including food and water delivery. After business hours, please call Campus Safety at 440-775-8444.

What do I do if I have a friend/roommate with flu-like illness (fever with cough, shortness of breath and/or sore throat)?

Encourage your ill friend to contact Student Health Services and to wear a mask if they are going to be near others. Masks are available at Student Health Services (SHS). If your friend has traveled to China in the past 14 days, call Student Health Services, Mercy Allen Hospital or Lorain County Public Health (440-322-6367) for advice on what to do right away.

Monitor your own health and be particularly stringent in following the self-care guidelines below.

If your roommate is ill and you need assistance with alternative housing, please call the Dean of Students office or Campus Safety at the numbers listed above.

If I traveled to areas with the coronavirus, and I am not experiencing any symptoms, should I quarantine myself? If I do, will I suffer consequences if I miss classes?

Under the guidelines of the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health and Lorain County Public Health, there is no need for any person who is not exhibiting flu-like symptoms to self-quarantine. It is understandable that students who feel they may have been exposed to the coronavirus may wish to self-quarantine themselves, but there is no medical reason to do so.

The consequences for not attending class because of the virus would need to be discussed with your professor.

What if I am studying abroad this semester in an area that becomes affected by the novel coronavirus?

The College is actively communicating with its study away partners, including those in potentially impacted locations. Please reach out to Director of Study Away Programs Mike Rainaldi (mrainald@oberlin.edu) with questions or concerns about your specific program. If you need immediate assistance outside of business hours, please call Campus Safety at 001-440-775-8462.

What is Oberlin College Student Health Services doing in response to the current 2019-nCoV situation?

Oberlin College is working in conjunction with Lorain County Public Health to prepare for the potential presence of 2019-nCoV infection on campus. Oberlin College Student Health Services (SHS) is staying up-to-date on the latest information about signs and symptoms, diagnostic testing and treatment plans. SHS is prepared to screen patients with flu-like illness (fever with cough or shortness of breath) for this infection. SHS plans to contact Lorain County Public Health and Mercy Allen Hospital if a patient is at risk and under investigation for this virus so the situation is handled appropriately and with the most current CDC guidelines and recommendations.

How can I avoid getting sick?

It is flu season and it is always a good idea to protect yourself and others from infection by following these practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading any virus to others. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes in your elbow or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. When used correctly, commercially available disposable disinfectant wipes, cloths, or towelettes are effective for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
  • Avoid sharing household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, bedding and towels.

This is a stressful time. What do I do if I am worried about my friends or even my own health?

We recognize that some of you are feeling growing concerns about family or friends in China, or about your own health. The Counseling Center offers walk-in appointments during weekday office hours, as well as a 24-hour, 7 days-a-week counseling line at 440-775-8470 (option 2)

If you have additional questions or concerns, please send them to Health.Info@oberlin.edu. Watch your email for responses.


January 27, 2020

Coronavirus Q&A

Office of Communications

January 27, 2020. For the latest information, visit the Coronavirus FAQ.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and now with 2019-nCoV.

What is the novel coronavirus?

2019-nCoV is part of a large family of coronaviruses, some of which cause illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. This happened with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014, and now 2019-nCoV. These viruses may cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How is Ohio tracking 2019-nCoV?

Ohio’s public health system includes a team of state experts, local health departments, and local partners that perform daily monitoring of reportable diseases, including 2019-nCoV. ODH is closely monitoring the 2019-nCoV situation in lockstep with the Centers for Disease Control and is ready to respond if a case is reported in Ohio.

What happens if a case is reported?

  • A case or suspected case of 2019-nCoV is reported to a local health department.
  • ODH reports to the CDC and, if indicated, patient specimens will be collected and shipped.
  • Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC.
  • ODH will work with local, state, and federal partners to investigate reports of 2019-nCoV in order to identify cases and prevent the spread of infection.

What can you do to limit risk?

If you suspect you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV because you have traveled to China or have been around people who may have been exposed and/or are exhibiting symptoms, contact your health care provider and let them know you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV before visiting the health care facility. This will help the health care provider’s office take precautionary steps to keep other people from being exposed.

Just as with influenza and other illnesses, it’s critical to protect yourself. Experts at the Ohio Department of Health recommend these tips:

  • The most effective means of protection is the same as those things that prevent other illness such as flu.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Don’t go to work or class when you feel ill. Stay home and rest.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.

When did the first case of 2019-nCoV occur in the United States?

  • The first U.S. case was announced January 21, 2020 in Washington State. There are ongoing investigations by the CDC to learn more. There are currently no known cases in Ohio. ODH is providing guidance to state and local health agencies and health care providers.
  • Amy Acton, MD, MPH, director of ODH, declared novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a Class A reportable infectious disease on January 23, 2020.
  • Classifying a disease as Class A means that confirmed or suspected cases of nCoV must be reported immediately to the local health district where the person lives (or the local health district where the person is being evaluated if the person’s residence is unknown or not in Ohio). Required reporters include physicians providing care, administrators in charge of hospitals, clinics or other institutions providing care or treatment, laboratory administrators, or any individual having knowledge of a person with nCoV.

If you traveled to affected areas outside the United States where 2019-nCoV outbreaks have been identified (e.g. Wuhan, China) and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • 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.

What is public health doing to protect Ohioans?

  • Ohio’s public health system includes a team of local and state partners who perform daily monitoring of reportable diseases, including 2019-nCoV (educating about what public health does).
  • ODH is monitoring this situation, in lockstep with the CDC, and will be ready to respond if a case should be reported in Ohio.
  • CDC considers U.S. risk low at this time.

Should I cancel a public event I've helped to organize on campus, or should I avoid attending such events?

Lorain County Public Health states, “There is no need to change any routine activities or behaviors at this time.”

Below are links to trusted sites where you can find additional information:


January 27, 2020

Information for Employees Regarding Coronavirus

Office of Communications

How to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other influenza?

All employees, especially those with frequent travel, should follow the recommended preventive measures:

  1. Stay home when you are sick with influenza-like illness. Sick workers stay home if they are ill with influenza-like illness until at least 24-hours after they are free from fever.

  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  3. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.

  4. Cover your coughs and sneezes. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

  5. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

  6. Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean. For example, telephones, computer equipment, etc.

  7. Try not to use other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment. If necessary, consider cleaning them first with a disinfectant.

  8. Practice other good health habits. Attention to rest, diet, exercise, and relaxation helps maintain physical and emotional health.

What to do if your department is impacted by Coronavirus?

Please contact Human Resources (440-775-8430) if your department is impacted by the coronavirus or if you experience high absenteeism from other flu strains.

What does Oberlin recommend for travel restrictions at this time?

Oberlin has no firm restrictions on travel but recommends avoiding trips to an impacted country (like China). China has closed all transportation within and out of some heavily impacted areas (like the City of Wuhan). The CDC is also recommending avoiding all non-essential travel to the area.

If you travel to China and within 14 days you feel sick with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please seek immediate medical care and avoid contact with others.

Source: Centers for Disease Control, Ohio Department of Health


January 27, 2020

Statement Regarding Coronavirus

Office of Communications

Oberlin College is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV. The respiratory illness caused by 2019-nCoV was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and continues to expand. However, it is important to note that there have been two confirmed cases in the United States and no known outbreaks in Ohio.

This virus is considered a low risk to the American public, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Ohio Department of Health is providing guidance to state and local health agencies and healthcare providers.

China, the United States, and other nations are taking steps to slow the spread. Travelers are being screened and those with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will undergo additional health assessment.

The health and safety of Oberlin’s students, faculty, and staff are of paramount importance and everyone in our campus community should take the following precautions, as recommended by the Ohio Health Department.

  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Don’t go to work or classes when you feel ill. Stay home and rest.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.

Please view this page for additional updates.

Anyone on campus who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should call their healthcare provider before going to a facility, to minimize the potential spread of disease. Students should consult with Student Health on campus (440-775- 8180). In case of emergency, please call Campus Safety (440-775-8444, 24 hours 7 days a week or dial 911). The nearest hospital with emergency services is Mercy Allen in Oberlin (440-774-1211).

Frequently asked questions about coronavirus


 

Resources and Information

On Campus

Anyone on campus who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should call their healthcare provider before going to a facility, to minimize the potential spread of disease. Students should consult with Student Health on campus (440-775- 8180).

County and Local Resources

The nearest hospital with emergency services is Mercy Allen in Oberlin (440-774-1211).