Dear Rutgers Community Members,
Information made available by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the past week indicates that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has been detected in multiple countries. There continues to be no known community spread of the virus within the United States and no confirmed cases in New Jersey. Additional confirmed cases in the United States announced over the weekend were the result of the State Department and the CDC’s work to repatriate U.S. citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who had previously been isolated aboard the ship along the coast of Japan.
The CDC has updated travel advisories as follows for regions outside of China: South Korea – Warning Level 3; Iran, Italy, and Japan – Alert Level 2; Hong Kong – Watch Level 1. For these reasons, Rutgers has decided to extend our restrictions on student, faculty, and staff official or authorized travel to include South Korea as well as China. This includes travel for university business such as (but not limited to) teaching, study abroad, conferences, presentations, internships, research, recruiting, and athletic competitions. Students whose studies may have been interrupted by the travel restrictions related to COVID-19 should contact the Rutgers Global International Student & Scholar Services unit at 848-932-7015 with questions. The university is continuing to monitor these updates very closely and will alert our impacted groups and the campus community if additional university guidance is recommended.
Over the next few days, you will likely read and hear the illness referred to as an epidemic or pandemic. These words alone can be scary, but every year we live amidst such international illnesses without much thought, as we face the flu and common cold. Uncertainties associated with the introduction of a new illness are understandably frightening. While we are still learning about the virus, it continues to appear to be spread by person-to-person contact and cause individuals infected to suffer symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath, like the common cold or flu. In some cases, severe respiratory illness is observed.
Information available indicates that early detection and care promote recovery from this infection. If you have reason to suspect you may have been in contact with COVID-19 and are feeling unwell, please seek medical advice right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms, avoid contact with others, don’t travel while sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Rutgers Students: To make an appointment with Rutgers Student Health
- Rutgers–New Brunswick
- Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
- Call 856-225-6005
- Visit the Campus Center, second floor
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms following possible exposure to the flu virus or COVID-19, seek medical care from your personal physician as soon as possible. Remember to call ahead and tell the healthcare provider’s office about your recent travel and symptoms. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel.
If you are returning from travel to China or South Korea, or were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, please contact the Occupational Health office below before returning to work:
Occupational Health Offices by location:
- Rutgers–New Brunswick, Rutgers–Newark, and Rutgers–Camden: 848-932-8254
- Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) Newark: 973-972-2900
- RBHS New Brunswick/Piscataway: 848-445-0123 ext. 2
- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Faculty and Staff: 732-235-6559
We will continue to monitor and prepare for this crisis as we have since international reports of the epidemic were first made known last month. We work to help those of our community already impacted, and plan for the worst—preparing our protocols, facilities, workforce and more—while hoping for the best. Rutgers clinical providers and Student Health Services and Occupational Health have put measures in place to screen symptoms and establish safeguards in the event that a Rutgers community member is identified with the virus. The university has readied equipment and circulated guidance to appropriate personnel regarding the handling of individuals and materials, and Rutgers Environmental Health and Safety has provided an information system that will enable easy health monitoring of individuals in need. The university’s Emergency Management teams have prepared facilities in the event that a Rutgers community member needs to be isolated.
We are also proud that Rutgers is an active participant in the growing research effort now underway worldwide, to better understand this new virus, and to better diagnose, treat, and eventually prevent it.
For now, as we watch and wait, we encourage you to make your own preparations by building good habits. Keep all viruses at bay by frequently washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, stay home if you are feeling unwell. Get your flu shot and avoid touching your face. Eat well and get enough rest. Remember that wellness includes mental wellbeing and practice kindness and generosity with your neighbors. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Please bookmark our webpage (academichealth.rutgers.edu/coronavirus) and for up-to-date information about COVID-19, our preparations, and other general guidance. We will keep the community updated on new critical information as it becomes available.
Wishing you good health.
Vicente Gracias, MD
Senior Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University
Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University