Novel coronavirus update: Feb. 28, 2020

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been detected in more than 40 locations internationally, including several cases in the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes it is likely that more cases will be identified in the coming days. The University continues to seek and follow guidance from local and national public health agencies to plan and prepare for COVID-19 and respond if there is a local outbreak. The University’s Emergency Operations Policy Group and the Campus Incident Response Team are meeting regularly to review operations plans to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak in Chicago. We will continue to communicate as we prepare contingency plans.

As spring break and summer vacation approach, many members of our campus community may be planning to leave campus and some may travel abroad. We continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 and we want to share guidance on travel and safety recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Travel outside of the U.S. is dynamic and may change quickly. If you do plan to travel, we strongly encourage you to follow these guidelines:

  • Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information for travelers which currently recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to China and South Korea. The CDC has recommended enhanced precautions for travel to Italy, Iran and Japan.
  • Closely monitor Travel.state.gov to review current travel restrictions from the U.S. Department of State during this public health emergency. Anyone returning to the U.S. from mainland China is required to self-isolate for 14 days; this includes people with or without symptoms. These recommendations may be extended to travel from other countries with ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
  • Regularly check with your commercial airline carrier for changes to outbound and inbound flights.
  • Consult with your health care provider or University Health Service prior to and upon return from travel outside of the U.S., particularly if you plan to visit an area with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Check the University’s International Travel Safety website if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. for University business.

Whether you are traveling abroad or staying in the U.S., we encourage everyone to take everyday precautions to prevent illness, including colds and flu:

  • Get a flu shot — it’s not too late.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

As we continue to learn more about the public health challenges resulting from the COVID-19, we want to acknowledge the impact this situation is having on our community. While there are currently no reported cases of the virus on our campus, we know that many may be experiencing stress, anxiety and concern for loved ones who may be living in areas where the virus is more widespread.

UIC is a global university and we benefit from the richness of the diversity of ideas and perspectives that our international reach brings. It saddens us to learn that members of our community, particularly Asian and Asian Americans, have experienced racial harassment, encountered xenophobic remarks, and been made to feel unwelcome in the wake of the COVID-19. This conduct has no place at UIC, as diversity and inclusion remain core to our campus values.

We call upon our entire UIC community to offer compassion, kindness and understanding to our University family knowing that many may be experiencing stress. For additional support and resources, students can contact the Counseling Center and the U and I Care Program and faculty and staff have access to the UIC Employee Assistance Program. The UIC Asian American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) and the Campus Advocacy Network at the UIC Women’s Leadership and Resource Center are additional resources for the campus community.

Please be reassured that we are taking the necessary steps to keep our community healthy and safe. Visit today.uic.edu/coronavirus for additional information, campus updates and support resources for the UIC community.

Sincerely,

Susan Poser
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Robert Barish, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

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