Coronavirus Update - 3/27/2020
March 27, 2020
The last 24 hours have brought the unfortunate news that Kent County now has a case of community transmission of COVID-19. Even though Washington College has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, we must all now operate on the assumption that with everyone we encounter, and everywhere we go, we put ourselves at risk of contracting this highly contagious respiratory disease. You need to consider that people are carrying the virus, even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.
It is only a matter of time before someone you know contracts COVID-19. Our intent is not to be alarmist, but to be pragmatic in helping our community members understand how easily this disease is spread, and to give you the information you need to protect yourselves.
According to expert health officials, infected individuals with mild or no reported symptoms are still contagious and capable of spreading the virus. Plus, the virus has a long incubation period, with many people not showing symptoms for an average of five days after infection. Together, these two factors result in a lot of people being infected and spreading the virus without knowing it.
This is exactly why Washington College has encouraged so many students to go home, why we have restricted access to campus, why we have adopted online learning and remote working environments, and why we remind you at every opportunity to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: practice social distancing, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, clean and disinfect household surfaces every day, and practice good handwashing hygiene. If you can, stay home.
In the first wave of the outbreak, the Coronavirus Response Team followed established emergency operations protocols for crisis communications and put into place mechanisms that will allow us to quickly bring you news and updates. As we enter this new phase of community transmission, we can expect that many members of the Washington College community will undergo testing for COVID-19. In accordance with the guidelines established by our local, state, and federal health officials, we will report only positive cases of COVID-19 among our Washington College community as they are confirmed. And we will continue to bring you updates about how we are adapting to this new normal through email communications and ongoing maintenance of the coronavirus microsite.
Please know that we are doing everything in our power to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe. But much of that responsibility rests with you. It’s a big mistake to think that if you don’t interact with sick people, you’ll be fine. That’s simply not the case with this virus.
Health officials expect the number of cases to spike over the next two weeks. As more cases of COVID-19 become known, it is imperative for us to remember that this virus does not discriminate. COVID-19 affects people from all walks of life. Be kind to those who are affected, and don’t make assumptions that they have done anything wrong.
It’s also important to remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed during prolonged stressful times such as these, but that you don’t have to carry all of that burden. There is support available to help you and your loved ones. SAMSHA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support to anyone experiencing emotional distress. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
We know this is scary stuff. But knowledge is power. Please use this information to stay safe and protect your family and friends.