GW Officials Offer Guidance on Coronavirus

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.

February 03, 2020

While there are no confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus at George Washington University, officials are taking steps across campuses to assist in keeping members of the GW community healthy and provide reminders of what you can do yourself.

The 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Symptoms can include fever, cough or sore throat, headache, runny nose, muscle pain and shortness of breath. Public health officials say the symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Public health officials are advising residents that flu and other respiratory diseases are circulating in the community.

They are recommending everyone get a flu shot and follow basic prevention guidelines.

“To ensure the health and safety of everyone in our community, it is now more important than ever to cooperate and collaborate across all parts of GW,” said Lynn R. Goldman, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Public Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health. “Our school is assisting the university in remaining prepared based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local public health officials and our faculty.”

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.

“As the university continues to monitor the situation with the coronavirus, it is important that we all remain vigilant in taking care of our own health and wellness,” said Barbara L. Bass, vice president for health affairs, dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates. “At GW, we are fortunate that we have experts within our faculty and on our staff who contribute every day to preserve the safety of our community.”

GW is working closely with medical partners to coordinate efforts in response to 2019-nCoV. Officials ask that the GW community be vigilant and assist in avoiding the spread of misinformation. GW places a high value on the diversity of our community and respect for individuals. 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 us that there is no reason to suspect any member of the  community of having this virus solely on the basis of actual or perceived national origin.

Experts from the Milken Institute SPH and SMHS will answer questions about the 2019 novel coronavirus on Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Instagram and Facebook. They will be taking questions from the GW community before and during the Q & A.

What is GW doing?

  • Students visiting the Colonial Health Center are being screened for recent international travel and will be asked about their health and travel history.
  • The university’s Public Health Advisory Committee continues to evaluate current conditions and the advice from CDC and our medical partners.
  • GW has placed hand sanitizer in residence halls and many centralized locations.
  • The university has increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms in university buildings, university housing and shuttle buses.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes have been placed in central locations to wipe down surfaces.
  • The university will continue to outreach to students, faculty and staff with preventative health measures.

At this time, GW is following the CDC travel advisory and recommends against all nonessential travel to China, where the 2019 novel coronavirus originated. To check the current CDC travel recommendations visit the CDC website.

At this time there are no restrictions on academic, operational or extracurricular activities at GW.

The CDC and local health departments deem the risk of the 2019 novel coronavirus to the American public to be low. The university is maintaining normal operations, all classes and events will be held as scheduled. Students who are feeling ill should communicate with your professors, who have been advised to maintain flexibility when excusing students from class for medical reasons.

The university will continue to communicate with the GW community as more is learned about the virus and any possible exposure. If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have the 2019 novel coronavirus, are urged to first call the health care facility they plan to visit. This will allow the health care providers to give you accurate recommendations regarding where to report for care. Students are advised to call the Colonial Health Center at (202 994-5300) and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. Physicians at the GW MFA and the GW Hospital will be coordinating with the Colonial Health Center on any cases that need further attention.

If you are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family in China, please contact GW Counseling and Psychological Services to speak with a counselor. You can set up an appointment through CHC or see a counselor during their walk-in hours on the Foggy Bottom campus, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you are concerned about a student, please submit a CARE Network Report.

More information, including FAQs and regular updates can be found at GW Campus Advisories.

University News


GW Officials Monitoring the Coronavirus

January 29, 2020

The university urged students to exercise caution while traveling abroad and has communicated directly with students who are in China for the spring semester.