Dear students, staff, faculty, and teachers:

The Gallaudet University Crisis Leadership Team (CLT) continues to monitor COVID-19, the respiratory illness that was first reported last December in Wuhan, China. Ted Baran, Director of the Department of Public Safety and chair of CLT, attended a meeting of Washington area university emergency managers to discuss prevention and harm reduction, response, and cooperation among institutions. COVID-19 training has been provided to first responders, primarily the Department of Public Safety and Residence Life and Housing staff. The Student Health Service is in close contact with DC Health.

There still have been no reports of COVID-19 infection in our area. However, COVID-19 has spread to more locations around the globe, and Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Tuesday that “We expect we will see community spread in this country…It’s more of a question of exactly when this will happen.” President Trump has asked Vice President Mike Pence to lead the nation’s coronavirus task force.

At Gallaudet, our focus is education and prevention. Some useful links are listed below.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers two excellent resources:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. You should also follow reports from reputable print, television, and online sources.

While there is a great deal of media attention to COVID-19, the more commonly known influenza causes many illnesses and deaths annually. Kim Lee-Wilkins, director of the Student Health Service says that, “This is flu season, so if you have not received their flu vaccine, you should.”

In terms of prevention for both influenza and COVID-19, the keywords are proper hand-washing and cleanliness. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is best; see this student-created video for instructions. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers also can be used, but should not be a substitute for proper hand-washing.

Lee-Wilkins adds, “Cleaning is of the utmost importance, especially surfaces that are constantly touched throughout the day, such as counters, desktops and tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.” Campus units are strongly encouraged to purchase disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers.

SHS has provided DPS and Residence Life and Housing with disposable thermometers to be given to students. SHS also is making individual hand sanitizers available to students for pick-up at SHS. Human resources will provide individual hand sanitizers for Gallaudet employees beginning on Monday, March 2: stop by College Hall 106.

As of Tuesday, February 25, the U.S. Department of State says that six countries (China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Italy) are in a heightened state of alert due to COVID-19 outbreaks. China and Iran have been assigned Level 4 warnings due to COVID-19 and political unrest, and the other four countries carry Level 2 warnings because of COVID-19. Gallaudet policy prohibits University travel to any country with a Level 3 warning or higher. This situation is fluid and may change as more countries are affected.

Members of the University community who seek to travel internationally on behalf of Gallaudet should check with the Office of International Affairs at ia@gallaudet.edu before making travel arrangements. Students planning spring break travel should assess their plans and modify them if necessary.

CLT, the Student Health Service, Health and Wellness Programs, the Office of International Affairs, Human Resources, and other campus units will continue this education campaign with periodic updates.

Sincerely,

Theodore Baran
Chair
Crisis Leadership Team

Travis Imel
Vice Chair
Crisis Leadership Team