Dear Campus Community,
As you may have heard, Missouri’s first presumptive case of coronavirus was diagnosed in St. Louis County over the weekend. Despite this concerning news, our public health officials still consider the risk in Columbia to be low.
The St. Louis case has no connection to the University of Missouri and we have no cases of the virus on our campus or in our community.
However, let us assure you that we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness. We have many teams that have been meeting regularly for the past several weeks and have taken actions to address the situation and help us work together as a community. Many team members have been working diligently and after-hours as we consider any new information and the impact that it may have on our university. This activity involves close collaboration with local and state public health and medical experts as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, we are updating information on the university’s dedicated webpage.
Our university community continues to closely monitor the situation. We are preparing and planning as we watch countries across the globe and universities across the nation contend with the impact of this illness. We have already taken and continue to take the following precautions:
- Sanitizing large gathering spaces, residence halls and dining halls: We are sanitizing large gathering spaces throughout campus. Additionally, staff are cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in residence halls and dining halls, including doorknobs and handles, light switches, toilets, faucets, sinks, tables and countertops.
- Distributing hand sanitizer: Washing hands with soap is best, but we also have hand sanitizer stations throughout campus and expect to have smaller bottles available soon.
- Canceled study abroad in countries with CDC Level 3 warnings: We have canceled study abroad trips in China, Italy and South Korea. As students return to the United States, many of them are going back to their homes away from campus and will be self-monitoring with the assistance of their local public health departments. We continue to work with the students to ensure they maintain their academic progress this semester.
- Banned university-related travel in countries with CDC Level 3 warnings: All university-related travel to countries with a CDC Level 3 warning has been banned.
- Assessing university-related travel: Additionally, we are reviewing trips, including spring break university-related trips, on a case-by-case basis. We have already canceled some trips to areas where the coronavirus is known to be an issue, and we will continue to monitor these situations closely.
- Reviewing emergency plans and completing drills: This past week, more than 50 staff, faculty and administrators gathered to review our emergency plans and to discuss various scenarios related to the coronavirus. This helped us identify specific resources available on campus as well as think about different actions we might have to take as this situation evolves.
- Mizzou will adopt a recommendation by Faculty Council leadership to employ a no-handshake practice. Verbal greetings are preferred substitutes.
We know that many of you have travel plans coming up for spring break. Please review your entire itinerary and consider not traveling. If you do decide to travel, it is prudent to plan for delays and complications as you could have difficulty returning to campus based on how this situation develops over the next few days and weeks.
We continue to strongly recommend that everyone follow the guidelines of our public health authorities, which include the following actions to prevent the spread of the virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who 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.
- Stay home when you are sick.
If you feel sick and think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, please call ahead before visiting your health care provider. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Students who experience symptoms should contact the MU Student Health Center to discuss symptoms and travel history. Faculty and staff members who experience symptoms should contact their primary care provider.
Thank you for all you do to keep our campus safe.
Alexander N. Cartwright, Ph.D.