Messages from the University

WashU Update Regarding COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

March 3, 2020

Dear parents and families,

I am writing to share updates from Washington University in St. Louis on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Our students’ health and well-being remain our top priorities. At present, there are no known cases in St. Louis. We continue to work to support our students’ wellness and safety regarding this issue. The email below was sent out to the campus community regarding current status, spring break, and other COVID-19-related information.

All members of our campus community are being reminded to take precautions (frequent hand-washing, cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, avoid touching eyes) to prevent the spread of infectious disease. These precautions will help reduce the risk of many respiratory infections.

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


Lori. S. White

Dear Washington University Community,

With the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our highest priority, we want to share with you some updates and important information about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. As you likely are aware, COVID-19 continues to spread globally, including here in the United States.
As of this writing, we are able to confirm and share the following:

  • To date, we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Louis or in the state of Missouri.
  • The university’s Crisis Management Team has been activated and is meeting regularly to determine the appropriate proactive measures to take in order to mitigate this evolving public health threat.
  • We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, our infectious disease experts at the School of Medicine, and local and state public health agencies.
  • A number of countries in addition to mainland China, where the virus first originated, have reported significant numbers of COVID-19 cases and spread of COVID-19 in the community. Community spread refers to COVID-19 cases diagnosed without clear exposure from travel to high-risk countries or other documented COVID-19 cases.
  • Our Study Abroad offices are assisting students in returning home from study abroad programs in countries with university travel suspensions in place.
  • Any member of the university community – students, faculty or staff – who is returning to the United States from certain countries with elevated risk (see updated list here), including those countries under a university travel suspension condition, are required to complete the following steps before returning to Washington University and coming onto campus property:
    • Follow all instructions from health officials that you receive at the airport upon landing in the United States.
    • Undergo medical screening and receive medical clearance prior to returning to campus:
      • Danforth Campus students, faculty and staff must call Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-4129 for screening and clearance. 
      • Medical Campus students must call Student Health at 314-362-3523, and Medical Campus faculty and staff must contact Occupational Health at 314-362-3528 or for screening and clearance.
    • If you have visited any of the countries on this list, you may be subject to restrictions on your ability to return to campus, including the possibility of quarantine for 14 days after returning to the United States.

Spring Break and International Travel:

As many in our community plan to travel for spring break and beyond, we recommend that you continue to monitor the CDC and the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 updates and travel guidance and follow the regional restrictions that are put in place. We strongly encourage you to think carefully about the risks of traveling internationally while the COVID-19 situation continues to develop. For Danforth Campus students, university housing is open during the break and you do not need to leave campus if you prefer to stay.

With the outbreak still rapidly evolving, it is highly likely that additional countries will be impacted in the days and weeks ahead, and we want to encourage behavior that could help contain or slow the spread of the virus across countries, and further into the United States. In addition to the potential risk to your personal health, you should also consider that many countries, including the United States, are imposing international travel restrictions. If you travel internationally, you may find yourself subject to restrictions while you are traveling and upon re-entry to the United States and your return to the university if you do decide to leave the United States. There also could be implications that would prevent you from successfully completing your academic coursework if you are unable to return to campus. Please also be aware that some airlines have altered flights or will do so in the future, and these restrictions are difficult to predict.

As a reminder, all university-sponsored and supported travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea is currently under a travel suspension condition due to COVID-19 activity. For additional details on university travel suspension conditions, please see the University’s International Travel Policy, and check the list of countries subject to screening and clearance, which we will update on the emergency site (click here to see an updated list).

We would also like to remind all members of our community to take precautions to prevent the spread of illness, just as you typically would during a normal flu season. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your face. Stay home if you are sick with cold or influenza-type symptoms to minimize risk of transmission to others.

This is a complex and evolving situation. We are sharing updates on our COVID-19 information page as it becomes available, so please check there for the latest information. Your health and well-being are our top priorities, and we will continue to provide guidance as the situation evolves. Thank you for your cooperation.


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