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With yesterday’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning related to the Coronavirus, we wanted to provide an update to our last communication related to the growing international concerns. We have updated the below information with new information in italics.

There is much concern over the outbreak of the coronavirus in China and recent reports of cases in thirteen other countries, including the United States, where there are currently five confirmed cases (two in California, one in Arizona, one in Washington, and one in Illinois). Although the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated the risk to the U.S. public is low, the CDC recommends that you use reasonable precautions in order to maintian your health and prevent the spread of all respiratory conditions, including:

  •  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, then throw the tissue in the trash; and
  •  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

In addition, faculty and staff serving students are urged to prepare for the possibility of illness by students and employees or even a potential closure of college facilities for a time. Although we hope these circumstances will not develop, such preparations are valuable for other situations like late winter snow storms. The best way to do this is to make use of the many online resources we have at the college. For faculty, above all develop a plan with your students (and communicate it to them) for dealing with absences or a closure. Please be as flexible with students as possible while still maintaining the integrity of the course. Contact the Center for Instructional Technology if you need assistance with Blackboard or other online resources and the Center for Professional Development (or your supervisor) for advice on maintaining momentum in courses during periods of disruptive illness.

To further assist and educate the public concerning the virus, the CDC has established a coronavirus website that includes a wealth of information including: information about the transmission, symptoms, prevention and treatment of the virus; frequently asked questions and answers (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html); guidance for travelers; and information for health care professionals. To access the CDC’s coronavirus website, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. The CDC has posted Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html) Additionally, the CDC has raised its travel advisory for China to the highest level – “Level 3 Warning.” This status urges travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china). Previously, only Hubei province, the epicenter for the coronavirus, carried the Level 3 designation. The CDC’s new travel precautions shortly followed the U.S. State Department raising its own travel advisory for most of China to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel,” with Hubei province rated “Level 4: Do not travel” (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/china-travel-advisory.html).

The Trump administration is considering imposing travel restrictions on China amid an escalating death toll from the virus. The restrictions could affect flights into and out of China, as well as airports across the United States. The administration has also expanded coronavirus screening from five to twenty U.S. airports, which could impact the travel plans of individuals from affected areas.

In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has also issued guidance concerning the virus, which can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/clinical-advisory/update-and-interim-guidance-on-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-in. Also a guide that includes a variety of information on prevention and treatment, as well as a printable Factsheet https://www.mass.gov/doc/english-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-0/download. According to the guidance, the current risk to Massachusetts residents is low. However, as a precaution, Boston’s Logan International Airport has announced that it will begin screening travelers from any country that has confirmed coronavirus cases. If an individual presents symptoms of the virus (i.e. fever, shortness of breath and cough), they will be placed in isolation and assessed further.
If you have recently travelled to or from China, or have come in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus, you are directed to contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at (617) 983-6800. In the case of an emergency, please call 911.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Human Resources at hr@necc.mass.edu as it is monitored by multiple staff members.

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