To: USC Community
From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health
Date: January 23, 2020
Subject: Campus Update on Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
We want to update the campus community on the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan City in China. National and global public health officials are closely following this developing situation.
At present there are no cases in the campus community. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our local LA County Public Health Department. We will update the community on any new developments.
All members of our campus communities are reminded to take precautions to prevent spread of infectious disease (attached in the following pages). The precautions will help reduce your risk of many respiratory infections including influenza, which is widespread in Los Angeles County. Handwashing hygiene and respiratory hygiene (covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your eyes) are proven prevention measures.
USC Student Health, Keck Medicine, advises persons who recently traveled from Wuhan or other affected areas (in the past 14 days) or have had close contact with some suspected of having an infection with the novel coronavirus to watch for flu-like symptoms (fever and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, or difficulty breathing); and if experiencing symptoms, use a face mask, and seek immediate medical care. If you are asymptomatic (not experiencing symptoms) you do not have to be seen by a provider.
Students should call USC Student Health for medical care, 213-740-9355 (WELL). Faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider. Be sure to call before seeking care.
Students who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about family in China may see a counselor; call 213-740-9355 (WELL) to arrange an appointment. Students are also encouraged to join the special “Let’s Talk” section for International Students, that is offered in the Office of International Students Royal Street Structure Suite 101, Tuesdays 1:30-2:30 p.m., facilitated by Alice Phang. Faculty and staff can contact the Center for Work and Family for counseling support, (213) 821-0800.
Additional updates will be shared with the community via email and the USC homepage: www.usc.edu.
Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Questions from students; answers from USC Student Health
What should I do to prevent the spread of infection?
Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses are commonly spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands. Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing prevents the spread of a virus. Handwashing (with soap and water) for 20 seconds reduces risk of infection. (https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html) Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid close contact with someone who is sick.
How many cases are there in LA? How fast is it spreading?
There are currently no reported cases of Wuhan Novel Coronavirus in Los Angeles. There is one reported case in Washington state. We can to expect to see more U.S. cases as screenings at airport points of entry in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta continue to screen passengers traveling from Wuhan, Hubei province in China.
What measures is USC taking to prevent the spread of the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus?
All of us can take measures to protect our community from the spread of illness, primarily through good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and reducing contact with others when feeling sick.
Does the flu shot prevent the Novel Coronavirus?
No, the flu shot is formulated to match influenza viruses expected to be circulating in the United States during the 2019-2020 flu season (which is currently seeing a rising number of cases in Los Angeles County, so please get a flu shot if you have not already done so). The influenza virus is a different genetic makeup from the coronavirus. The coronavirus has many genetic variants, including the “common cold” that generally does not present serious adverse health risks.
Will the school be able to distribute face masks to students? What kinds of masks will be able to prevent the infection?
Patients to Keck Medicine of USC ambulatory care settings, including USC Student Health buildings, are welcome to take a mask from the front lobby as they come in for care. If you do not have access to a mask, any face covering—including a tissue, cotton cloth, or scarf—can help reduce the spread of infections by physically keeping airborne droplets from reaching others. A covering also prevents the casual “habit” of touching your mouth and nose with your hands that many people do without being aware of it.
What should I do if I have a fever or have the symptoms of the flu? Do I need to be isolated?
Individuals who have had recent travel (with the last 14 days) from affected regions and are experiencing symptoms are advised to make an appointment to see a medical provider. Students can call USC Student Health, call 213-740-9355 (WELL); let the scheduler know you think you may have the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus. Faculty and staff should contact their regular health care provider. For illness, stay at home to avoid spreading the virus to others until you have been without a fever for 24 hours.
What can I eat and what can’t I eat?
There are no dietary restrictions related to viral infections.
Where can I get the most updated information regarding the Novel Coronavirus?
The most updated current information on the Novel Coronavirus as it presents in the United States will come from the federal public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Any specific local advisories for California or Los Angeles County would be issued by the state and/or county public health agencies and will be shared with the university community by USC Student Health via email and on Twitter.
Will the school be able to distribute hand sanitizer to students?
Hand gel is available in dispensers at locations throughout the campuses and all members of the community are encouraged to use them. Remember that hand gel does not replace handwashing with soap and water; handwashing is a more effective way to reduce the spread of infection.
Cc: Carol L. Folt
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team