Message to the USC Community
From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health, Keck Medicine of USC
March 4, 2020
Today, both Los Angeles County and the State of California have declared a state of emergency regarding COVID-19. This declaration assists officials access resources and funds from federal agencies to help with prevention, emergency preparedness, and response for necessary public health measures.
Although this announcement comes on the heels of other news related to COVID-19 in California, there is no Los Angeles community transmission at this time, and no cases at USC. L.A. County Department of Public Health has stated there is no immediate threat to the general public. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors are encouraged to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene, as this is the height of flu season across the County.
In the interest of protecting the safety of our students, faculty and staff, the university is closely monitoring the evolving situation. We have convened an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that has been meeting daily since January. The EOC is actively monitoring any new developments related to COVID-19, staying in touch with local public health officials and planning for adjusting university operations accordingly. We are undertaking extensive contingency planning in case circumstances change in our community and on our campus. The following is a summary of topics we would like our community to stay informed about:
Student Travel Programs
Students in study abroad programs in CDC travel advisory 3 countries (currently China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea) have been brought out of those country programs and are returning to the United States. Within 4 hours of arrival in the U.S., students are contacted for a phone health screening from USC Student Health.
If a student has symptoms or possible exposure, she/he/they are provided appropriate medical attention by USC Student Health in line with guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Students who do not have symptoms or exposures are educated on symptoms to watch for and provided with detailed instructions on what to do if they get sick. USC Student Health providers are following up with students on day 7 and day 14 of their arrival in the U.S. They are housed individually and provided appropriate guidance to stay home and practice social distancing (limiting contact with others) for 14 days.
All Travelers from Level 3 Countries
As per recent guidance from the CDC, the university is requiring all international travelers from CDC Level 3 countries to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to any campus locations.
For Students Currently on Campus
USC students are strongly advised against international travel during spring break.
Flight cancellations, quarantines and border closures have been implemented by several countries on short notice. The university strongly recommends postponing nonessential personal travel outside of the United States at this time. All members of the community are advised to evaluate domestic travel prudently and consider contingencies.
Students who are arriving on campus from international destinations may be required to complete a health screening process and/or isolation measures as the rapidly evolving information about COVID-19 becomes available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Environmental Safety Measures
In the event of a student with a confirmed COVID-19 case, USC would work with L.A. County Dept of Public Health on treatment, community notifications, and re-housing accommodations required for prevention of community spread. These processes would apply to any USC student, whether residing in USC Housing or a private off-campus residence.
Campus facilities staff are using appropriate cleaning agents and enhancing cleaning protocols, including frequency, in public areas.
Preparedness and Continuity Plans
The EOC has activated business continuity plans and well as an academic continuity planning group, that is working closely with all the schools and programs within the university.
- The academic continuity planning priorities have been outlined in a message to faculty and staff on March 2. Currently all programs on campus are proceeding as normally planned.
- A set of guidelines for organizers of events has been published; events may proceed as regularly planned with additional measures for infection prevention and good public health hygiene.
Any changes to the status of academic and campus programs will be communicated via email, on the USC homepage, and the COVID-19 website; please continue to check these sources for current information.
We encourage all members of our community to practice good personal hygiene:
- Stay at home if you are sick. Faculty should not require notes from medical providers for students who may have absences due to respiratory or other illnesses.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your cough and sneeze with your elbow or sleeve.
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth.
- Wearing face masks as a routine practice is not recommended.
In this unusual time of heightened anxiety and concern, we continue to be a community that supports one another, and exemplifies the very best values of caring, compassion, and understanding. We recognize that some members of our community may have families and hometowns under duress, or experienced microaggressions or bias. We encourage Trojans to use our resources (listed in the close of this message), seek support, and/or report bias.
Questions from the Community
To further address any questions from our community, we will schedule a web-based Q and A with campus leaders shortly; a schedule will be announced on USC main social media channels and on our websites.
Contacts and Resources
- Students, faculty and staff encountering difficulties returning to the U.S. from abroad due to travel restrictions should use this hotline to contact the university.
- USC community, including parents of current students, should use this hotline to ask any questions related to COVID-19, travel restrictions, and any other related matters.
Students (for medical and mental health care): USC Student Health, 213-740-9355 (WELL); firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty and Staff (for mental health care): Center for Work and Family Life, 213-821-0800, email@example.com.
For all USC community members, to express concern about a Trojan: Campus Support and Intervention (the “Trojans Care for Trojans” program), 213-740-0411, firstname.lastname@example.org. This form can also be used to report a bias incident.
Keck Medicine of USC, Employee Health (instructions for health care employees and related personnel of Keck Medicine of USC): (323) 442-8609. For Verdugo Hills Hospital, (818) 952-4796.
Environmental Health and Safety: (public health and hygiene instructions for non-health care employees) (323) 442-2200; see the current health alert.