Sent March 6, 2020, 8:01 a.m.
Dear Gonzaga Community:
On Monday, March 2, I informed the campus community that a Gonzaga community member self-reported they had been tested on Saturday, February 29 for the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). I alerted our community about this potential case because providing information relevant to the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff – particularly in the current context – is a top priority for the University. I am pleased to inform you that the test result, which was received yesterday evening, was negative.
Had the result been positive, the Spokane Regional Health District would have initiated appropriate protocols to protect the public health, including informing those who may be at risk. I can assure you Gonzaga is committed to transparency and following the guidance of public health experts. As you are no doubt aware, The State has reported a number of COVID-19 cases and – very sadly – some with the virus have died. Our prayers are with those who have been affected by this outbreak directly, as well as those indirectly impacted through loved ones, heightened anxiety, incidents of bias or discrimination, or economic loss.
Managing the Current Situation
As of today, it is still the case that we know of no members of the Gonzaga community who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. At this time, no protective actions or orders are in place for the Spokane area. However, the reality is that more people are being tested in our state and it is very likely that more cases will emerge. We understand this may cause concern and anxiety. It is important to know that thus far most people who have become ill with COVID-19 have experienced relatively mild symptoms, such as fever and cough. Those most at-risk are people over age 60 and those with underlying health conditions. While there have been deaths from the disease, the vast majority of individuals do recover and return to normal life.
To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community, it is critical for all of us to stay informed, diligently practice good hygiene, and support each other. Please stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Students who develop symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath should call the Gonzaga University Health & Counseling Center at 509-313-4052, or contact their own health care provider. Resources for University employees include Teladoc, available online at teladoc.com/premera or at 1-855-332-4059. Those traveling to the WCC Tournament or for spring break should pay attention to CDC Travel guidelines, and review and practice measures to stay healthy.
I urge everyone to visit our recently-updated website, www.gonzaga.edu/coronavirus for comprehensive information about COVID-19, links to resources, contact information, and updates concerning the University’s specific actions. The website includes an FAQ addressing many of the questions we’ve received from students, faculty and staff, as well as a form allowing you to submit questions.
Our Commitment to Prepare
I want to assure you that the University is working with public health officials and following the guidance of the Spokane Regional Health District and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be as prepared as possible to protect the health of the Gonzaga community. Our Emergency Management Team is meeting daily on planning, operations, logistics, academics, and communications fronts to be prepared for many scenarios as the epidemic evolves. Even if these measures are not ultimately needed, ensuring we are prepared for disruptions now will serve us well in the future.
A Call for Care, Respect and Compassion
The COVID-19 epidemic is real, and we need to take it seriously. At the same time, we are also best served by calm and compassion. In times such as this, we are reminded that respect for every individual, care for the whole person, and support of those in need are values at the heart of our Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic mission identity. As such, it is important we all take the time to equip ourselves with facts and take the responsibility of dispelling myths and stigmas that lead to rumor, panic, bias and discrimination. COVID-19 is not in any way connected with nationality, race, or ethnicity nor should those returning from affected geographic areas face discrimination. Let us continue to work together to demonstrate the care, respect, compassion and good will that are the hallmarks of the Gonzaga community.
Thayne M. McCulloh,