Messages from the University

WashU COVID-19 Update

March 8, 2020

Dear parents and families,

As you may have heard, the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the state of Missouri was identified yesterday, in St. Louis County. While it was not unexpected that we would have a case here as the virus has continued to spread globally and in the U.S., we understand this news may be unsettling, and want to reassure you that our team is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates to our university community as new information becomes available. The person is not a Washington University student or a member of the Washington University community. At this time there remains no known community transmission within the St. Louis area.

We continue to provide the latest updates on the COVID-19 information page, and will send emails as warranted to share new details. Please also check the COVID-19 FAQs for additional information and see  locations with elevated risk of COVID-19 for areas of concern.

We will continue to keep you updated as timely information arises related to COVID-19 and it’s impact on the Washington University community. If you have specific questions about the health or safety of your student that are not addressed in the email, please feel free to contact my office or our Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Support and Wellness, Dr. Kirk Dougher, at k.dougher@wustl.edu.

Sincerely,

Lori. S. White

March 8, 2020

To our Washington University community,

As you may have heard, the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the state of Missouri was identified yesterday, in St. Louis County. This person had recently traveled to Italy, where there is widespread ongoing community transmission of COVID-19. The person is not a Washington University student or a member of the Washington University community. At this time there remains no known community transmission within the St. Louis area.

While it was not unexpected that we would have a case here as the virus has continued to spread globally and in the U.S., we understand this news may be unsettling, and want to reassure you that our team is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates to our university community as new information becomes available.

We continue to provide the latest updates on the COVID-19 information page, and will send emails as warranted to share new details. Please also check the COVID-19 FAQs for additional information.

For now, please continue to take precautions to keep yourself and others healthy, as you would to prevent the flu or other viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • When possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick with cold and flu symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are sick with cold or influenza-type symptoms to minimize risk of transmission to others.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Based on current information, symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after initial exposure. It is passed from person to person primarily by having close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets like those generated from a cough or a sneeze. If you think you might have been exposed to COVID-19 and you are experiencing these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away. Students on the Danforth Campus should contact Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-4129 and Medical Campus students can call Student Health at 314-362-3523. Danforth and Medical Campus faculty and staff who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact Occupational Health at 314- 362-3528 or occupationalhealthservice@wusm.wustl.edu for guidance.

If you have traveled to a location with elevated risk of COVID-19, you must contact the departments above for screening and you may be required to stay away from campus for 14 days. You must have medical clearance from Occupational Health or Habif Health and Wellness Center before coming onto university property.

Given the nature of the virus and the way it has been spreading, as well as the gradually increasing testing capacity, it is highly likely that we will see more cases here in the St. Louis region. This is expected and not cause for panic, but rather an important reminder that we all need to remain vigilant and take reasonable precautions to protect our individual health and the health of our community.

Please keep an eye out for additional communications as the situation develops, and know that the university response team is closely tracking COVID-19 and will take necessary steps to ensure that our community is prepared to address this evolving health concern. We’re taking this matter seriously, and we know that our community will pull together to navigate the situation effectively, with care and compassion for each other.

Sincerely,

Cheri LeBlanc, MD
Executive Director, Habif Health and Wellness Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Steven J. Lawrence, MD, MSc, FIDSA
Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Clinical Sciences, Office of Medical Student Education
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases