February 29, 2020

Health Promotion and Wellness Blog

Guidance Related to the Appearance of COVID-19 in Oregon

Oregon’s first presumptive case of novel coronavirus was announced late on Friday, February 28, and public health officials have issued new guidance for the response to COVID-19. Please review the information below and continue to visit Lewis & Clark’s Community Health Blog regularly for updates. Questions about any aspect of COVID-19 may be emailed to covid19info@lclark.edu.

The individual who has been presumptively diagnosed is not a member of the Lewis & Clark community. They are hospitalized and receiving medical care. The case had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is known to have had close contact with another confirmed case. Public health officials are considering this a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the source of the infection is unknown.

Criteria for Individuals Most at Risk for Contracting COVID-19

If you meet any of the below criteria, please contact your local health provider for a medical evaluation and inform Associate Director for Health Promotion Melissa Osmond (mosmond@lclark.edu). Melissa’s role is to provide support, connection with appropriate campus resources, and potentially to monitor any patterns of symptoms on campus.

The Oregon Health Authority has identified the following criteria to identify persons under investigation for COVID-19:

  1. Fever OR signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness* AND close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 within 14 days of symptom onset. (For now, this includes enrollment or employment at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego.)

  2. Fever AND signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization AND a history of travel from affected geographic areas** within 14 days of symptom onset.

  3. Fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory. diagnosis (e.g., influenza) AND no source of exposure has been identified.

*Lower respiratory illness includes cough or shortness of breath

** Important update: “Affected areas” now include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea, and that list may grow. For the most recent list of CDC level 3 warning countries, see this webpage.

What to Do If You Have Symptoms of Fever, Cough, or Shortness of Breath

Public health officials recommend that persons who think they might have been exposed to COVID-19 do the following:

  • Stay home at the first sign of illness.

  • Take care of mild symptoms at home. Mild illness in the setting of possible exposure is not a reason to seek medical care.

For symptoms like fever or cough that are severe or cannot be managed at home, call your health-care provider. For undergraduate students in Portland, during daytime working hours, this call should be to the Health Service (503-768-7165). Law and Graduate students may contact the Health Service, or their off-campus provider. After hours, students should call the Nurse Consultation Line at 1-800-607-5501. Students can also call into one of the urgent care centers or hospitals listed on this webpage. Students on study abroad programs should contact the health care provider recommended by their program staff. Faculty and staff should contact their own health care providers.

If You Need to Be Absent

The health of our students and our community is of the foremost importance. Students who must miss class due to illness should email their professors. Reasonable accommodations will be provided. Faculty and staff who must miss work due to personal or family health concerns should email their supervisor. As always the Human Resources office is a resource for employees with questions about benefits or leave.

How Can I Stay Healthy?

The CDC continues to recommend taking these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hand-washing with soap is much superior to using hand sanitizer! How long is 20 seconds? Sing Happy Birthday twice! If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.

  • Take care of your health overall. Eating well and exercising help your body stay resilient.

  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the United States.

Travel Guidance Reminder

Please see our previous blog post for important advisories for community members planning international travel over spring break.

Support Resources for Community Members

We recognize that the diagnosis of a presumptive case of COVID-19 in the region has heightened anxiety. Lewis & Clark leadership join with Oregon public health officials in encouraging everyone to remain calm and focus on what you can do to support your own health and the health of our community. Students who are experiencing stress or anxiety are encouraged to speak with staff in the Health Service (503-768-7165) or the Counseling Service (503-768-7160). Employees with significant stress or anxiety are encouraged to consult with their supervisor, the Human Resources office, or staff in the Employee Assistance Program.

If you have questions about information in this message, please email COVID19info@lclark.edu.