March 6, 2020
To the Methodist University Community:
We look forward to our students and colleagues returning to campus this weekend after spring break, many of whom traveled across the country and some overseas. The University’s leadership team continues to monitor and follow the guidance from federal, state, and local government experts on public health and infectious disease, particularly regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). Our Methodist University Epidemic Response Team is currently planning and executing the University response in coordination with various community health partners. This is an evolving situation affecting countries around the globe, and we will adjust our guidelines and actions as the circumstances change.
Following are some brief answers to questions you may have:
Should we start wearing masks?
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services cautions that masks are only recommended for use by sick people to prevent the spread of the disease, not by people who are well.
I am returning from a foreign trip. What should I do?
There were no Methodist-led spring break trips to areas where the Centers for Disease Control have applied a Level 2 or higher alert. If you did travel to an area under one of those alerts, the CDC is recommending you stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with the Level 3 Travel Health Notice. Please reach out to the Student Health Center at (910) 630-7164, and the University will work with you on living arrangements and class obligations.
Currently, the CDC has issued Level 3 Travel Health Notices for Italy, South Korea, Iran, and China.
The CDC has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Japan.
Please note that these notices continue to change regularly, and please check the CDC Corona Virus 2019 Information for Travel webpage (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) for updates.
Again, no official Methodist University trips occurred in any of the currently listed Level 2 or Level 3 countries.
How do I keep from getting sick?
The greatest risk right now remains the flu, and the preventive measures for the flu are equally helpful in preventing COVID-19, specifically:
- Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Be mindful of when your hands touch a public surface and should be washed. We advise that you follow the CDC’s recommendations for handwashing: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, either with a tissue or into your elbow.
- Do not share food, drinks, cigarettes or vapes, mobile phones, or other items that touch your mouth or nose.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well, and contact the Student Health Center at (910) 630-7164 or your medical provider about a fever (100.4F/38C or higher), cough or shortness of breath.
I’m a student and I don’t feel well. What should I do?
- Contact the Health Center immediately at (910) 630-7164.
- Contact your professors for accommodations.
- Take care of yourself: get rest, food and any medicines that you need.
My roommate is returning from an overseas trip. What should I do?
- If your roommate was in an affected area, please encourage them to contact the Health Center immediately and follow CDC guidance.
- If your roommate was not in an affected are, you both should follow the preventive steps outlined above and watch for any symptoms.
My roommate or friend is ill, and I’m worried. What should I do?
Please encourage them to contact the Health Center immediately at (910) 630-7164.
Are you canceling campus events, like concerts or games, and, if not, should I attend them?
The CDC’s guidance right now is that the risk of COVID-19 to the general population remains low. The University has not canceled any campus-wide events at this time. Individuals who show no symptoms can still attend and participate. Any updates regarding the college’s response to COVID-19 will be shared on the University’s COVID-19 webpage.
What kind of preventive measures is the college taking?
We are monitoring updates from government experts in public health and infectious disease, such as the CDC and state and local health departments, and implementing best practices distributed by the American College Health Association and Cumberland County Health Department. Our maintenance and custodial teams will continue to disinfect classrooms and other facilities, including railings and door handles. In coordination with the Cumberland County Health Department and Cape Fear Valley Health, the Health Center has developed a protocol should students become ill. Specific units such as Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Athletics, Residence Life, Human Resources (for employee health), and many others are also putting specific protocols in place.
Where should I go for more information?
The CDC and NCDHHS both provide robust web pages with information about COVID-19, and Methodist’s COVID-19 page provides university-specific information. So far the locations with enough reported COVID-19 cases to merit travel warnings all have been in foreign countries, but we encourage you to pay attention to reports on confirmed cases in the United States. The one confirmed case in North Carolina at this point involved a visit to Washington state, where there were several reported cases.
The health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff remains our first priority at Methodist University. At this point, the COVID-19 risk at Methodist University remains low. However, we will continue to be vigilant regarding COVID-19, and we will continue to keep you updated both through the COVID-19 webpage and through emails. It is important for us all to remain calm and to keep ourselves informed. Fear and panic are never effective responses in situations such as this. The most effective response is a combination of awareness and careful compliance with all recommended preventative measures.
Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President
William H. Walker, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students