GW Emphasizes Respect, Inclusivity in Light of Coronavirus Outbreak

There is no reason to believe any member of the GW community is at a higher risk for contracting this virus.

February 27, 2020

George Washington University officials are asking the GW community to be vigilant and assist in avoiding the spread of misinformation about COVID-19, a novel (new) respiratory virus that, until last week, had been known as the novel coronavirus.

While there is an outbreak in China, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the university’s own public health experts assure there is no reason to believe that any member of the GW community is at a higher risk for contracting this virus.

“The International Services Office (ISO) staff have made contact with our students from China. We have emphasized campus resources available to assist with coping as most have family and friends who remain in China,” said Jennifer Donaghue, director of the International Services Office. “Diversity is one of the strengths of the GW community and we are here to support those affected students and communities. Please join us in sharing accurate information about COVID-19 by reviewing the FAQ sheets and continuing to welcome and provide support to all members of GW.”

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, on Jan. 31, 2020. As of Feb. 18, the United States has 15 confirmed cases in seven states— Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. There are no confirmed cases in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia.

While there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases with a connection to GW, the university has taken proactive steps to protect the safety and health of the GW community. The university has been in contact with all students scheduled for GW-related travel to China, including students who had planned on studying in China for the coming semester. GW Office for Study Abroad advisers are assisting them with alternate plans. The university has advised the entire GW community of official notices and resources regarding health precautions, travel safety, and related key information on the coronavirus as the information is made available.

The university is taking steps across campuses to assist in keeping members of the GW community healthy.

  • Hand sanitizing stations have also been placed in the residence halls and other centralized locations throughout GW’s campuses.
  • The shuttles and SafeRide vehicles are being wiped down on a regular and frequent basis along with other high-touch areas.
  • Sanitizing wipes have been placed in the food courts to give you the opportunity to wipe down your surfaces or your devices. Wipes will also be added to the computer labs around campus if you wish to clean the keyboards prior to use.

The best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • 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 or the inside of your elbow. Immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine if you have not yet done so.

The university's public health team continues to evaluate current conditions and the advice from CDC and medical partners. GW continues to evaluate its preparedness actions.

The Division of Safety and Security continues to monitor the situation and will respond accordingly. For updated Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) please check out our campus advisories page.

University News


GW Officials Offer Guidance on Coronavirus

February 03, 2020

Officials share tips to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and urge members of the community to avoid close contact with people who are sick.