Message to the USC Community
From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health
January 26, 2020
We are updating the community in light of information that individuals in Los Angeles and Orange County in Southern California have tested positive with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We are in contact with local public health officials; there is no known connection between the affected individuals and USC.
Local public health officials, under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will conduct a “contact tracing” measure with the identified patients, and proactively contact any individuals who might have had an exposure. They will work with any individuals who may be affected to check if any symptoms develop.
USC Student Health (part of Keck Medicine of USC) advises persons who recently traveled from Wuhan City or other affected areas in the past 14 days or have had close contact with someone suspected of having an infection with the 2019 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. Please call your health care provider in advance. 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). Counseling is available at the same number, for students experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about family in China. Faculty and staff should contact their healthcare provider if they have symptoms, and the Center for Work and Family Life (213-821-8100) for counseling support. Additional updates will be shared with the community via email and the USC homepage: https://usc.edu.
For general questions or comments: call 213-740-6291 or email email@example.com.
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Questions from students; answers from USC Student Health
- For Patients of USC Student Health: 213-740-9355 (WELL)
- For general questions or comments: call 213-740-6291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For Continual Updates: https://usc.edu
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE CONFIRMED CASES:
Individuals in Orange County and Los Angeles County, California have been confirmed as testing positive with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from the Orange County Health Care Agency and Los Angeles County Public Health. The following information is also confirmed:
- There is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred from these cases.
- There is no known connection from affected individuals with USC.
- USC is in regular contact with our local public health officials and will update the community with any new developments.
Answers to frequently asked questions are below; additional helpful information is available at the CDC FAQ website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html).
How can I know if I might have been in contact with an affected patient?
Local public officials will conduct a “contact tracing” measure with identified patients and proactively contact any individuals who might have had an exposure. They will work with any individuals who may be affected to monitor if any symptoms develop.
What disinfection measures are effective?
Coronaviruses, including the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, are transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person (cough, sneezing, close contact). Standard Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved cleaning products and disinfectants are effective in cleaning surfaces.
The university is taking extended measures to ensure a hygienic environment, including regular cleaning of common areas, and refilling of soap and hand sanitizers.
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?
Please visit the USC homepage (https://usc.edu) for continual updates on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus as it relates to the USC campus community. We expect to see more confirmed U.S. cases in addition to these first confirmed 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 2019 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.
If someone who has recently traveled to Wuhan City is on campus, should they be isolated or held in quarantine?
Any recent traveler from Wuhan or other affected area who has symptoms (fever and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, or difficulty breathing) should contact Student Health (213-740-9355) and make arrangements to be seen by a medical provider right away. The patient should wear a mask to prevent infection of others through respiratory droplets.
Quarantine is not currently recommended for asymptomatic individuals; monitoring their health and face/hand hygiene are the medically recommended practices. Individuals who may have had an exposure or are arriving from affected areas are not required to be quarantined. They are able to continue normal activities while closely monitoring their health.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement that it appears this latest case does not threaten public health, cautioning, “people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness.”
If there is an infection of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus on campus, will the university isolate the individual?
In the event of a USC student testing positive for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the patient would receive appropriate medical attention and would be under monitoring of public health officials. Any roommates or suitemates concerned about close contact would be assisted in temporary relocation and any other needed support by the university.
What are the symptoms I should be looking for? Who is most at risk?
Patients with confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
Many cases appear to be mild. Individuals who are elderly, have weakened immune systems, or have other underlying health conditions appear to be at risk for more severe disease.
I am worried about friends and family in affected areas. What can I do to help?
It’s hard knowing people you care about are in the middle of a very scary situation far away. We know that this has been a difficult time for many members of our Trojan family. Please know we are here for you and encourage you to reach out for support. If you want to meet with a counselor, please call 213-740-9355, or you can join with other international students at a special “Let’s Talk” group in the OIS office, Tuesdays, 1:30-2:30.
You can also help your family back home by letting them know you are taking good care of yourself. The best advice for not getting sick is to practice frequent handwashing and staying out of close contact with people who might be sick. Let them know you are well, and it may comfort and reassure them. As opportunities to assist become available, we will share these with the community.
Does the flu shot prevent the 2019 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 (Los Angeles County is currently seeing a rising number of cases, 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 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.
Does wearing a face mask help me if I am NOT sick?
Wearing face masks routinely is not recommended for people who are not sick. Face masks are effective in preventing droplets from a sick person from infecting others and are used by healthcare providers, family members, and others when caring for or in close contact with a sick person. Handwashing and avoiding touching your face, (eyes, nose, and mouth) are the most effective method of illness prevention.
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.
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 within 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, 213-740-9355 (WELL); let the scheduler know you think you may have the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Faculty and staff should contact their regular health care provider. For other illnesses, 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 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
The most updated current information on the 2019 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.