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Coronavirus Update - February 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

Coronavirus Update

The outbreak of coronavirus (now abbreviated as “COVID-19” by the World Health Organization) is continuing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the United States, including California. Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, China, the origin of the outbreak.

To date, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at El Camino College. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the CDC says the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low at this time. Still, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the U.S. With that in mind, we should exercise caution and practice good hygiene. This includes:

  • Washing 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, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Faculty, staff, and students can call the Student Health Center at any time if there is suspicion of an active COVID-19 case. The criteria are: fever, cough, and shortness of breath with recent travel to mainland China or close contact with a confirmed case.

When the Student Health Center is closed, faculty, staff, and students should call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health directly at 213-240-7941 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or 213-974-1234 (after hours) and follow their instructions. Faculty have been asked to work with students who may have to miss class due to quarantines from travel.

It’s important to remember that while outbreaks like this understandably cause fear and concern, there’s no place for bullying or stigmatization of Chinese and other Asian community members. This is a time to be proactive and focus on facts, not fear.

The California Department of Public Health has issued specific guidance to colleges and universities regarding COVID-19. That information is available here.