Coronavirus Information

Appalachian State University’s emergency response team routinely monitors situations that could affect campus. Student Health Service physicians and staff are in regular contact with the UNC System, and local and state public health officials, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and screening ill students for risk factors. We remain vigilant and will continue to work closely with public health officials should we encounter any suspect illnesses.

If a student has traveled to China or been around someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus AND has cough, shortness of breath, or fever, they should call 828-262-3100 and ask to speak with a nurse – before coming to the clinic in person – so we can maximize treatment effectiveness while reducing the potential risk of exposing others.

General Guidance: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Updated February 6, 2020

The information below reflects the latest guidance as of the date and time stamp on each communication. Please note this is a rapidly developing situation. Links provided direct to the latest information available. Note that printed information may be out of date, and always defer to communications with the most recent time and date stamp.

Appalachian State University’s emergency response team routinely monitors situations that could affect campus, and consistently engages campus and community groups in year-round preparation for a number of scenarios.

At this time the team is monitoring Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the situation continues to develop rapidly. To date, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports there are no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in North Carolina.

The CDC considers 2019-nCoV to be a serious public health concern, but the immediate health risk to the general public is considered low at this time.

Appalachian has been working closely with our local and state Public Health partners to monitor 2019-nCoV and prepare in the event it should affect our campus. Our planning and preparation are in accordance with the CDC’s latest guidelines and recommendations, and we will continue to work closely with AppHealthCare, our local health department, to protect the health and safety of the Appalachian Community.

It is important to remember we are in the height of cold and flu season. To date, more than 50 people in North Carolina have died from the flu. If you have not yet gotten a flu vaccine, we encourage you to do so. They are available free of charge to students at the Student Health Center.

Guidance from the CDC indicates that other general prevention measures that prevent the flu and other viruses, such as hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and importantly, staying home when you are sick, are also the best measures to protect from contracting 2019-nCoV.

Again, Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are working together to share information and take action as appropriate.

Additional information is available at:

Here's where you can find the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control

Here’s where you can find the latest information from the NC Department of Health and Human Services

A questions and answers sheet can be found here for more information

Answers to key questions specific to Appalachian, informed by the CDC, NCDHHS and state and local public health officials, are below:

What is 2019-NCoV and what causes it?

2019-NcoV is caused by a virus. A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Click here for more information about the source and spread of 2019-nCoV.

How does 2019-NCoV spread?

According to the CDC, the virus may spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or being within close contact with them, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV?

The CDC reports a range of symptoms may be possible, from mild to severe, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is thought at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.

Many of the symptoms of 2019-nCoV are similar to other, more common viruses such as the flu. Taking precautions to avoid contracting or spreading the flu or other viruses is important for the health of the Appalachian Community, and can also ease your concerns about 2019-nCoV exposure.

What is my risk of contracting 2019-nCoV?

The CDC considers 2019-nCoV to be a serious public health threat, but the current, immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low at this time. The CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions, such as implementing travel bans against any non-essential travel to China, and the situation is being continuously monitored. There are no cases of 2019-nCoV in North Carolina at this time.

Traveling to and from certain areas may put you at increased risk. See wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel for the latest travel guidance from the CDC. If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China and are ill or have had contact with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV and are ill, please call:

Student Health Services
828-262-3100

or

AppHealthCare (local health department)
828-264-4995

Both agencies have after-hours, on-call nurses.

How can I protect myself from getting 2019-nCoV?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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.

More information is available here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

What is Appalachian doing to prevent 2019-nCoV on campus?

Appalachian is working closely with our local health department and we are tracking the situation, which is rapidly developing. We continue to communicate with our partners in the UNC System and with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to ensure we stay up-to-date with the latest CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of disease. Many of these recommendations, such as handwashing, staying home when you are sick, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue, are effective prevention measures you probably already perform.

More information is available here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

What about cleaning and disinfecting measures? How is Appalachian doing this and what are we using?

The university routinely uses cleaning products designed to reduce the spread of many diseases. The CDC recommends EPA-registered hospital disinfectants, and routine cleaning and disinfection procedures to prevent the spread of viruses, including the 2019-nCoV virus. Appalachian’s Environmental Health Safety & Emergency Management staff is working with facilities and housing on campus to ensure that EPA-registered hospital disinfectants are being consistently used to clean residence halls, classrooms, offices, public spaces and other facilities and equipment.

What about current students, faculty & staff who might be at increased risk?

Along with public health officials, we are continuing to identify and remain in contact with students, faculty and staff who have traveled to areas of higher risk. Of the very small group who have been to China during the possible exposure period or are there now, none have traveled to Wuhan.

The university has coordinated with public health and has reached out to each of the people who has been identified as having traveled to an area of higher risk.

Anyone who has traveled to areas of higher risk is receiving screening and prevention information upon re-entry to the United States. According to CDC recommendations, people may continue normal activities if they are symptom-free.

If you:

  1. Have recently traveled to a high-risk area, and/or
  2. Have been in contact with someone who has 2019-nCoV, and
  3. Begin to experience symptoms, such as mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing

Call:

Student Health Services
828-262-3100

or

AppHealthCare (local health department)
828-264-4995

Both agencies have after-hours, on-call nurses.

Read more about 2019-nCoV symptoms here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

Remember that the risk of contracting the 2019-nCoV virus is very low at this time, but prevention for other viruses, like the flu, is important to keeping our community healthy.

It is also important to remember that students, faculty and staff have friends, family and loved ones in areas that are at higher risk than in the United States and remain compassionate to their worries and concerns about their loved ones.

If I add new students to my classes will this increase the risk of exposure to 2019-nCoV?

This is unlikely. Remember that the risk of contracting 2019-nCoV is low at this time. The United States sees outbreaks of similar, respiratory viruses and the flu every year, and the general precautions to control the spread of these diseases is similar to that of 2019-nCoV.

I have plans to travel internationally. What should I do?

The Office of International Education and Development (OIED) is assisting students, faculty and staff who are traveling or have plans for international travel to China for university-approved educational or business reasons. OIED staff can assist you with international travel questions about this and other matters.

You should also monitor:

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website here:
https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/diseases/2019ncov.html

CDC’s website for the most current travel notices here:
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/

Jan 30