Information for Faculty and Staff

January 29, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

The Student Health Center (SHC) is monitoring and has begun preparations in the unlikely event students, staff or faculty returning from or traveling through the affected region of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China display symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus (2019 nCoV). The virus causes mild to severe respiratory illness which can develop more serious complications like pneumonia — especially in patients that have other underlying conditions. The virus is believed to spread person-to-person via small droplets produced when an infected patient sneezes or coughs. The SHC is coordinating with our partners across campus to identify anyone who may have traveled through or is returning from the identified Coronavirus–affected region, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The SHC is closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) communications, as well as local health departments, and will inform the Seattle University community when new information becomes available. Accordingly, we will continue to follow the guidance and recommendations for early identification and appropriate management of students, faculty and staff provided by the CDC, WHO and Public Health – Seattle & King County.

To date, five patients have tested positive for the Coronavirus, including one here in Washington State, in Snohomish County. Earlier this week the University of Washington reported that three students were showing symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus. Two of those three students have tested negative and the remaining student’s test results are expected by the conclusion of the week. At this time we have no information to suggest that any member of the Seattle University community is at risk for having contracted the Coronavirus. Local officials suggest the current Coronavirus does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public. Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, states, “At this time the risk to the general public is low.” We will update the Seattle University community if we receive information that changes this level of concern as we learn more about this virus.

As you think about disease prevention, the best option is to avoid getting sick altogether. Our recommendations for preventing and minimizing the spread of illness are:

Wash your hands frequently

If soap and water are not available use hand sanitizer but some viruses are only killed off with hand washing. Good hand washing involves the following steps:

  1. Wet your hands with warm or cold water and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  4. Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Adequate amount of sleep

Lack of sleep can impact your immune system making it easier to get sick if exposed to a virus as well as impact how fast you recover if you become sick. 

Stay home if you are feeling ill

The cold and flu season is impacting many students, faculty and staff here on campus particularly as Influenza activity remains elevated in King County.

The Seattle University community will appreciate you not sharing your germs, especially if you have a fever or are vomiting. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and get rest!

If you have a history of travel from Wuhan China in the two weeks preceding your symptoms or have had contact with a person confirmed to have 2019-nCoV AND are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath please seek care immediately.

If a student makes the decision to remain at home while experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, please support that decision as it is in the best interest of our campus. We also ask that we all recognize that not all illness or symptoms will require a student to be seen by a medical provider so please avoid requiring medical documentation for absences when possible.

Keep your germs to yourself

Cough into elbows, not hands where it’s more likely to spread bacteria and viruses through touch. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth because this is a common way to spread germs.

Get vaccinated

There is a vaccine available for influenza and there is still benefit to receiving it at this time. Even if you feel you have already had “the flu” this year it may not have been caused by the influenza virus.

As a precaution, the CDC has raised their travel advisory to a level 3: CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. If you have questions about Seattle University–related travel to or from an area in China with confirmed cases of coronavirus, please contact the Education Abroad Office. Any student, faculty or staff who is considering travel to Wuhan City, other areas where there is an active outbreak of the 2019-nCoV virus, or any other destination in China are urged to follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel recommendations. 

Seattle University will continue to implement its Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan which provides a framework for infectious disease preparedness and response activities and serves as a foundation for further planning and emergency preparedness activities. The Seattle University response represents the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and will serve as a blueprint for addressing highly transmissible and/or severe communicable diseases.

Please understand the purpose of this communication is to allow early identification of individuals who might have been exposed to this disease in order to monitor for potential illness and begin early treatment if needed. These measures will protect you and prevent the possibility of spread into the community should you or any of our students become ill.


Tara Hicks, ARNP
Director of Student Health Center
Seattle University
Office: 206.296.6300 I Fax: 206.296.6089

Alvin A. Sturdivant, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Seattle University
Office: 206.296.6066 I Fax: 206.296.6063