Leaders at The University of New Mexico are closely following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States.
“We are so fortunate to have a wide breadth of experts at UNM Health Sciences who are working on aspects of this situation,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes, in a message to the campus community. “Our clinical facilities are prepared to receive a patient with COVID-19 and our Incident Command Teams on both sides of campus have been working behind the scenes for weeks discussing everything from sick leave to how we can accommodate classes remotely if needed. We also have experts in our research labs working tirelessly to help create a vaccine for this virus.”
The president also urged members of the campus to think about how their choices might impact more vulnerable members of the community.
As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop, Stokes provides the following guidance on the University’s recommendations and next steps.
The impacted countries and regions continue to evolve on a daily basis, as does scientific knowledge of this virus. Please keep to date up with the spread of the virus by visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Aggressive public health procedures, including curtailing travel, can prevent the spread of the disease and we must take all precautions to ensure the health of our community.
UNM is canceling all university-related travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries and domestic areas where a state of emergency has been declared. Here is a list of those countries and areas.
Many major conferences have already been canceled nationally and internationally. At present, university-related domestic travel is not permitted to specific locations where a state of emergency has been declared. Exceptions may be considered based on extenuating circumstances but will require approval from the appropriate Executive Vice President. Please be aware these locations can change rapidly and university-related travel might be canceled at the last minute. Supervisors (for employees), the Dean of Students (main campus students) or Student Affairs offices (HSC and branch campus students) must be notified of any travel to any state with a COVID-19 related State of Emergency.
The following are recommended for after-travel:Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, those who travel out-of-state on personal or university-related travel may be asked to undergo a 14-day self-isolation off campus upon return.
Guidelines that include requirements to register all international travel via a database that will be available at http://www.unm.edu/coronavirus/ within the next 48 hours.
Employees must notify their supervisors (including chiefs, chairs and deans) if they have traveled abroad to a CDC Level 2 or 3 country or an area with a COVID-19 state of emergency declaration. Supervisors will assist in providing relevant information (dates of travel, locations visiting, point of re-entry) to designated university experts and will facilitate connections between the employee and expert. Advice may include self-isolation for the faculty, staff or student and close family members and/or testing at a health facility.
Students, staff and faculty in self-isolation will be encouraged to work and study remotely and supervisors will be given flexibility on the type of leave granted depending on the employee’s specific situation. If employees become sick, sick leave or FMLA should be used. Again, any person who develops fever, cough, shortness of breath or other signs of serious illness should call their health care provider and self-isolate.
Regarding the Potential of Community-Acquired Spread
Students, faculty or staff who develop a fever, cough and shortness of breath should not come to the University and should follow CDC guidelines for contacting their health care provider. Be mindful that a variety of respiratory viruses are currently active that might require medical attention, even without a COVID-19 exposure. Students, faculty or staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19 must remain at home for at least 14 days or until 24 hours after symptoms, including fever, resolve completely.
Students, faculty or staff who learn that they have come into contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 should alert the appropriate person per the attached guidelines. They must remain on home quarantine for 14 days and follow guidance from their healthcare provider.
Students, staff and faculty who are self-isolating will be encouraged to work or participate in classes remotely and ill employees should utilize sick leave or FMLA.
Regarding University-Hosted Events
University leaders have already received inquiries about UNM-hosted events scheduled to occur in the coming months. They are compiling a list of all UNM-hosted events contemplated for March and April. Those hosting an event with more than 30 attendees please check the UNM Coronavirus website for guidance and to provide details of the event. This should include location, number of participants, international attendees expected, length of event, guest speakers and their home states or countries and other relevant information.
Each event will be evaluated by health care experts based on the CDC and WHO guidelines for the areas from which attendees are coming. For all events, communication with attendees about precautions prior to travel, hand-sanitizer, bleach wipes, and a written plan for managing any participants who develop a fever must be in place.
In the event that community-acquired spread begins occurring across the country, The University of New Mexico will follow CDC recommendations for cancellation of events.
Please note that this is an evolving situation and UNM will continue to provide further guidance as things change.
Please remember to:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Cover your cough with your elbow or a tissue
- Throw away a tissue after use in an appropriate receptacle
- Sanitize common areas with disinfectant (such as Lysol wipes)
- Be considerate of others and stay home if you are sick
- Avoid handshakes, consider elbow bumps
For a related story, visit What you need to know about the Global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak.