What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans
and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
What is the source of the virus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.
How does the virus spread?
This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread") in some affected geographic areas
. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses
How can I protect myself from the virus?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness 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 diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC's recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- For information about handwashing, see CDC's Handwashing website.
- For information specific to healthcare, see CDC's Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.
- Follow the CDC's specific guidance for travelers.
Does the flu shot prevent the Coronavirus?
No, the flu shot is formulated to match influenza viruses expected to be circulating in the United States during the 2019-2020 flu season. The influenza virus is a different genetic makeup from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Is there a vaccine for the COVID-19?
A vaccine for COVID-19 is not available at this time, although a lot of labs are working on it.
The seasonal flu vaccine does not prevent the coronavirus; however, it does prevent the flu - which is still circulating in our community, and prevention of those infections of which we have a better chance is more important now than ever. CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get the seasonal flu vaccine because it will help protect you for the most common strains of the flu prevalent now. You have a much greater chance of catching the seasonal flu than of catching the coronavirus at this time.
If influenza currently remains more of a threat in the US than the Coronavirus, why is everyone so worried about it?
Many strains of coronaviruses are ubiquitous and are often responsible for symptoms attributed to the "common cold." Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a concern because it is NEW and at least some people get quite ill, especially as there is less community immunity from novel viruses like this. Not enough is known yet about this virus to know exactly how worried to be, however it does appear to be quite transmissible and it is best to be prepared. In the meantime, yes, we need to remain vigilant regarding seasonal influenza and get ourselves vaccinated. CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths from flu. In the U.S., flu is currently a far bigger threat to the general public than coronavirus.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 infection in the United States?
The CDC states that the risk to the general American public is low at this time. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment
may change daily. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC's web page
I think I might have COVID-19 -- what should I do?
If you are experiencing symptoms
of COVID-19 AND have either traveled to any affected area or been in close contact with someone ill with COVID-19, please stay where you are and call the Wellness Center (740-284-7223), Monday-Friday: 8;30 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed weekends. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms outside of normal Wellness Center business hours should go to the emergency room (calling the ER first to make them aware of pending arrival) or call 911.
If I am having cold symptoms and wish to visit the Wellness Center for a diagnosis, what procedures should I follow?
Please don't come in for routine cold or flu symptoms - it won't help you recover faster and will just expose others.
The only exception to this is that we DO want folks to call if they have fever or cough, especially if they have been in one of the COVID-19 hotspots
or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed or demonstrating symptoms of the disease.
For routine appointments, go to the Wellness Center as usual.
If you are not sure whether you need to come in contact the Wellness Center (740-284-7223), Monday-Friday: 8;30 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed weekends.
What about students, faculty, or staff who have recently returned from an affected area?
Students, faculty, and staff returning from an affected area
may not return to school or work for 14 days after their return to the United States. There may be specific measures put in place by public health officials, including barriers to re-entry, quarantine, and monitoring by the local public health department. You should follow the guidance provided by the authorities.
Individuals should monitor themselves closely for nonspecific symptoms including sore throat, sweats, or headache, and self-isolate if these develop. This means practicing good hand hygiene and self-care, avoiding close contact with other people, wearing a paper mask if available if they must go out, and watching for worsening symptoms.
People who develop a cough or shortness of breath or fever (>100.3F) should put on a (paper) mask if available, and call their healthcare provider for advice or go to the nearest emergency room. Students should call the Wellness Center (740-284-7223).
What happens when University suspects that a student, faculty, or staff has COVID-19 infection?
The University will engage the Ohio Department of Health to determine whether testing the patient for the coronavirus is indicated and if so where the testing will occur.
What happens to students, faculty and staff at the university if there is a confirmed case on campus?
Currently, there are NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Franciscan University. Should a COVID-19 case be confirmed, all CDC protocols will be followed. Those who have had close contact with the patient will be contacted and monitored.
I have been asked to self-quarantine -- what do I do?
Self-quarantine for COVID-19 is recommended if you have been directly exposed to the virus or have traveled to areas where there are large numbers of people infected in order to prevent further transmission. Here are some guidelines:
- Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.
- Students who have been asked to self-quarantine will be provided private rooms which have been identified for these purposes.
- Self-quarantined employees may not report to work. Self-quarantined students should stay in their assigned quarantine room except to get medical care.
- Monitor your symptoms: Fever, cough, shortness of breath.
- Seek prompt medical attention if you become ill. Please call the Wellness Center (740-284-7223), Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed weekends. Individuals who require medical attention outside of normal Wellness Center business hours should go to the emergency room (calling the ER first to make them aware of pending arrival) or call 911.
- Before seeking care, call the Wellness Center or your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, suspect you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19.
- Put on a facemask before you enter the healthcare facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.
- Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals.
- Students who are self-quarantined will be provided a private room with a private bathroom. They should avoid direct contact with other individuals or animals.
- As much as possible employees who are self-quarantined should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home and should use a separate bathroom, if available.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. CDC does not recommend that people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Cough or sneeze into the fold of your elbow. Alternatively, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean your hands often.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
- High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
We have heard that people can spread the disease even if they do not have symptoms! Why not test everyone returning from affected areas?
It remains unclear how infectious COVID-19 is before people become symptomatic. With any virus, it is possible that an individual may harbor the virus in their nose and mouth before feeling ill but the chances of spreading it at that stage are very low given that they would not be spreading these secretions by sneezing or coughing. In addition, it is unclear how helpful testing these individuals would be, even if rapid tests were available locally (which they are not): a negative test before symptoms develop does not mean they could not test positive when they do. Most lab tests for infectious diseases are not able to pick up an early infection.
What is quarantine, and how is that happening here on campus?
Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or group of people not known to HAVE, but reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent possible spread. It is not the same as isolating symptomatic people suspected to have an infection, which is what we routinely do when we are in the process of testing someone for COVID-19 or any other potentially serious communicable disease. Only the public health officer has the legal authority to order quarantine; if students are quarantined, they may do so at home or, if needed, on campus in designated quarantine spaces. Public health, and by delegation, University personnel, support and monitor quarantined individuals closely to ensure they and others remain safe.
How many Franciscan University faculty, staff, and students have recently returned from affected areas? Are we tracking?
There are no known faculty, staff, and students whom have returned from an affected area.
The University issued a directive that limits all nonessential travel to countries that are designated with a CDC Travel Notice
, and also requires anyone traveling abroad on University business to register
their international travel.
What is the campus doing for infection control?
The campus has been working to help ensure the safety of the campus environment: everything from expanded distribution and placement of hand sanitizers to enhanced disinfection and cleaning procedures of common areas.
The University Wellness Center is following evolving CDC guidance closely and instituting enhanced infection control measures in all clinical areas, along with requiring students and staff with cold or flu symptoms to wear a (surgical) mask when in the facility. Most importantly, a number of communications have gone out to faculty, staff, and students emphasizing the importance of handwashing and staying home when ill.
A reminder: while formally fitted N95 masks are required for healthcare providers and EMD personnel assessing or transporting a possible case of COVID-19, they are NOT recommended for the general public. They are not necessary, and it is critical to preserve these supplies.
How do I clean and disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?
Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through contact with inanimate objects contaminated with the virus. However, current evidence suggests that it may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces of these inanimate objects. Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces with soap and water followed by disinfection with an EPA-registered disinfectant is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. Use unexpired diluted household bleach solutions (1/3rd cup bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water), alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants. Be sure to use all products according to the directions on the label. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas such as tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, counters, desks, toilets, and sinks. Remember to wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
If there's a need to wear a mask, what type of mask would be helpful?
"Surgical masks" (the paper kind) may help limit transmission of YOUR COLD to others if you are sick; they are not recommended in this country for protecting a healthy person. But washing hands and avoiding touching your face work just as well. Properly fitted N95 respirators (the ones discussed during air quality events) are recommended for healthcare providers caring for those with this virus but not for the general population.