March 2, 2020
Dear Gonzaga Faculty, Staff and Students:
I am writing to you today with an important update, given the appropriate concern that exists regarding the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
We have been informed that a Gonzaga community member was tested for COVID-19 on Saturday, 2/29/2020 on the advice of their medical provider. The results of these tests are not yet complete. Out of an abundance of caution, and in partnership with guidance from healthcare professionals and the Spokane Regional Health District, this individual has been asked to limit their contact with others until the test results are finalized. Our thoughts and support are with this community member. We are also focused on the wider community and reducing potential exposure and transmission of illness on our campus.
One of the most effective ways to limit exposure and transmission of illnesses in the community is through education and information. The Gonzaga Emergency Management Team (EMT), in partnership with public health agencies, is developing a plan for mitigation, response and recovery efforts for the campus. This includes a website: www.gonzaga.edu/coronavirus with information about COVID-19 and prevention and response actions. The EMT continues to update this website with new information as it becomes available. There are also some important guidelines and personal health habits that we all should adopt and routinely practice which will mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends individuals and families follow these everyday preventive measures:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
As cases of the COVID-19 continue to be reported, it is clear that incidence is not related to any specific ethnic group, race, or nationality. I ask that you continue to treat all members of our University community with the dignity and grace we embody as a Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic institution.
Our sense is that the impacts from COVID-19 virus are expected to continue for some time. As new or relevant information becomes available, we will share it with you. In the meantime, let us all work together to support and care for each other by helping friends and colleagues who are ill, and practicing preventative measures to reduce the spread of transmissible diseases. Thank you.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.