Dear Members of the Brown Community,
I am writing with important information for members of the Brown community regarding the new respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and has since been labeled 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Spread of 2019-nCoV is correlated with circumstances of close and sustained contact with others who are infected. At Brown, we have seen no suspected case of 2019-nCoV nor have we identified any specific risk to any member of the Brown community. Of the cases confirmed in the United States as of this writing, most are in other regions of the country and none are in Rhode Island. The immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to individuals and communities in Rhode Island — including Brown University — remains low.
The University’s Core Crisis Team, which I chair, has convened to monitor the 2019-nCoV situation and to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to protect the health of our campus community should the need arise. Core Crisis Team members are in regular contact with the Rhode Island Department of Public Health (RIDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and we will be guided by the scientific and health recommendations of both agencies.
Information, answers to frequently asked questions and guidance about 2019-nCoV is available on the Brown University website and will be updated as new information becomes available.
While the risk posed by 2019-nCoV to the Brown campus remains low, influenza and similar viruses that cause colds are most prevalent at this time of year. All members of the community should routinely take the following steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay away from work or class when you 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.
- If you have not already done so, get a flu shot.
As always, students with a sore throat, fever, cough and body aches or other symptoms of concern should call Health Services at 401-863-3953. Brown faculty and staff should consult with their local primary care provider. Individual community members should follow the guidance of their health care professionals, including whether to stay home from work or class. Non-medical professionals — such as supervisors and classroom instructors — are not in a position to provide such guidance and should not do so.
Early this week, the University issued updated guidance on travel to China. Travel guidance to students, faculty and staff is guided by recommendations from International SOS, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of State and the CDC. We expect that travel guidance for China, and other nations, will continue to be updated as new information develops.
Now and in the future, Brown encourages all members of the Brown community to register University-related travel overseas in Brown’s global travel registry, TravelSafe, via their Brown login. This will enable all registered travelers to receive timely updates and advisories from International SOS sent directly to your email — it can also assist the University in locating you and offering support in the event of an emergency.
Additional travel information, including important details on Brown’s travel policy, can be found on the International Travel Risk Management or the Brown’s Response to 2019-nCoV websites. For personal travel to any country, students, faculty and staff should be aware of and follow the guidance of the travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State.
Counseling and Support
Finally, I wish to note that we understand that reports of the impacts of 2019-nCoV around the world can be very troubling, especially for members of our community who are from or have friends and family in affected areas. Resources and support are available for students through Counseling and Psychological Services and for faculty and staff through the Faculty/Staff Assistance Program. The University Chaplains can also offer support to any member of the Brown community.
We will continue to update the community with additional information as necessary.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy