2.5.20: Health and Wellness Center Campus Update

The university senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center continue to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and to provide updates.

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The university senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center continue to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and to provide updates.

New guidance from The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) now recommends that any person who traveled to mainland China or Hubei Province for the preceding 14 days—regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms—should remain in isolation, either at home or in a comparable setting, avoid congregate settings, and limit public activities. 

For individuals that fall into this category, the PA DOH has identified the Bethlehem Health Bureau as the public health entity responsible for developing a plan and the oversight of self-monitoring, checking in with students, and making any referrals for healthcare and travel. Students who fall into this category should contact Stephanie Oakley at the Bethlehem Health Bureau at her direct line at 610-997-7909. The Health and Wellness Center will continue to communicate with the Bethlehem Health Bureau to ensure continuity of care for our students. In addition, the Health and Wellness Center continues to work closely with the Office of International Affairs to identify and work with any students who fall into this category.

It’s important to note that as of this date and time, there are NO SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED CASES OF 2019-NOVEL CORONAVIRUS on our campus.

We continue to remain in constant communication with the PA DOH, the Bethlehem Health Bureau, and local healthcare entities and in consultation with health experts, both internally and externally, to ensure our timely responsiveness to these evolving guidelines and recommendations for the safety of our campus community.

We respect the privacy rights of our students, faculty, staff, and community members and will continue to balance our responsibilities under the privacy laws and the public health laws as we manage this evolving situation. We live in a global community. Disease knows no borders and has no preference for nationality. We must continue to practice our value as an equitable community while we work together to keep our campus safe and healthy.

As noted in previous updates, any student who comes to the Health and Wellness Center with fever and respiratory symptoms, in addition to routine medical assessment, is also evaluated regarding recent travel history, possible contacts with a person with known or suspected 2019-nCoV, and health status, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Although 2019-nCoV updates continue to dominate the news, we are reminding people that we are in the midst of influenza season and recommend precautions to prevent the spread of flu, including getting a yearly flu shot, and practicing good hand hygiene. Students who have not received the flu shot yet this season can take advantage of the free flu shots provided by our Health and Wellness Center.

Questions and Answers:

What is the university doing to be vigilant?

We continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), the Health Bureau of the City of Bethlehem, and local healthcare partners and are following all recommendations and guidelines for the management and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty. As noted above, given that we are in the midst of influenza (flu) season, we continue to advise the campus community to follow standard recommendations for the prevention of flu and other respiratory viruses. Additional guidance can be found below.

As previously communicated, the university has decided to suspend summer programs in China. This suspension will not extend to other programs abroad, including those in other parts of Asia and Pacific Rim. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide ongoing guidance to students and families as this situation evolves. We will also follow CDC recommendations to keep the campus healthy in respect to scheduled international visitors coming to our campus.

Should I participate in campus activities and events?

Individuals without any symptoms can continue to participate in campus events. The university, following guidance from the PA DOH, CDC and World Health Organization (WHO), has not canceled any activities or events due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus concerns.

Should we be using masks?

Masks are not recommended at this time for students, staff, and faculty who are not experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms.

Will Lehigh screen every person who has recently been in China and those with whom they have been in contact?

Lehigh University is following current PA DOH, CDC, and WHO guidelines on all screening and response protocols. These protocols may continue to evolve as new information regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus becomes known.

What should I do if I believe I have Novel Coronavirus?

These criteria have evolved. Up-to-date criteria are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

If you are a student and experiencing symptoms you believe are in line with 2019 Novel Coronavirus, please consult with the Health and Wellness Center or your own physician immediately. If you have a fever or have a cough, you should remain home, and minimize your exposure to others, and call our Health and Wellness Center or your healthcare provider for additional guidance.

The University also has a strong partnership with local health care providers, such as nearby St. Luke’s University Health Network, who are available to provide emergency medical evaluation and treatment as necessary. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

The Health and Wellness Center is open Monday - Thursday, 8:15 am - 4:00 pm and Friday, 9:15 am - 4:00 pm. After hours and on weekends, please call 610-758-3870 to talk with a clinician-on-call. Our clinical staff can assess your particular history and symptoms and make recommendations.

Important standard recommendations to prevent the spread of respiratory infections include:

  • If you are sick - stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Get your yearly flu shot - although there is no vaccine for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the flu shot provides critical protection against influenza.

The CDC reports symptoms of 2019 Novel Coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or could take as long as 14 days after exposure.

The CDC recommends everyday preventative measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

  • Get your annual flu vaccine (the Health and Wellness Center still has free flu shots).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home 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.

What is a coronavirus? How is it transmitted?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS. When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

How is the Novel Coronavirus treated?

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

What if I have additional questions?

The information that exists about Novel Coronavirus continues to evolve. We will continue to provide updates as we learn of them, and you can also continue to check the below resources.

Additional resources:

  • The Health and Wellness Center hours are Monday - Thursday, 8:15 am - 4:00 pm and Friday, 9:15 am - 4:00 pm. After hours and on weekends, please call 610-758-3870 to talk with a clinician-on-call. Our clinical staff can assess your particular history and symptoms and make recommendations.

  • The Health and Wellness Center has free flu shots available for students. Call or visit the website to schedule an appointment. 
  • Staff in the Counseling Center are aware that for some students, fear and anxiety about becoming sick can disrupt sleep, studying, and finding pleasure in being with friends. They also know that sharing the thoughts and feelings associated with those concerns, with a person willing to listen, can often be quite helpful in getting back to normal routines. Counselors are available and welcome and invite students to call the center to schedule an appointment to help address their concerns, anxiety and coping. The University Counseling Center can be reached at 610-758-3880, Mon. - Fri. 8am-5pm. Overnight on-call services are also available and students can be connected to a clinician calling this same number.
  • Visit the CDC for additional information about the Novel Coronavirus.
  • For more information about flu and other respiratory illnesses, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm and https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/.

The Health and Wellness Center will continue to review and monitor the situation and update students and staff as new information becomes available. Ongoing updates will be published to the university website.

Sincerely,

Lehigh University

Health and Wellness Center Team