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Precautionary Information about Coronavirus

January 24, 2020

To: The Campus Community
From: John Y. Tsai, MD, Medical Director of Student Wellness Services;
Julia M. McCallin, Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Date: January 24, 2020

In December 2019, the World Health Organization learned of unusual respiratory infections occurring in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province of China. On January 7, 2020, health authorities identified the cause as a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory-tract illnesses, such as the common cold, with symptoms that last only a short time. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Cases of individuals presenting infections with 2019-nCoV are being reported in a growing number of countries, including in the United States. It is not yet known how easily the virus spreads between people.

Please note: there is currently no identified risk on the Caltech campus.

The information and resources in this email are being shared on a precautionary basis; Caltech Student Wellness Services and Human Resources staff are monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates as they are warranted. Staff are working closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department and following their guidance. 

This situation is evolving rapidly and, for now, we are advising you to follow these CDC preventive actions: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) or wear a mask when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Do this frequently, and certainly after sneezing, coughing, or before/after touching your face.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and do not travel while sick. 
  • Avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China
  • Travelers to Wuhan should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat). Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should avoid travel to Wuhan or other affected areas if possible.

In addition, we are asking all Caltech students who have traveled to Wuhan in the past month AND have respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) to please contact Student Wellness Services (626-395-6393) or their healthcare provider. Please call the Wellness Center first before coming to the Center so we can make appropriate arrangements.

For all other community members, please contact your primary care physician if you have traveled to Wuhan in the past month AND have respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing). Please follow your treating provider's recommendations for seeking care.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.