National and global health agencies are closely monitoring an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. The new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has resulted in human infections in China, and cases in other countries that have been linked to the China outbreak.
Learn more about coronavirus from the following sources:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus FAQ from the CDC
There are currently no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in New York State.
However, this is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus FAQs. Houghton will also keep this FAQ up to date as the situation evolves.
- How is the College responding?
The College is following guidance from the CDC and the WHO to reduce any possibility of exposure to the virus, including mandating at least a fourteen-day period of isolation for any person deemed at risk of exposure. The College already has a plan to coordinate this isolation, including a location removed from other community members, a care plan for the affected persons, and a communication plan to those affected. We are also in close communication with public health authorities, namely the Allegany County Department of Health (ACDOH), both proactively in our response protocol and even more so in the case of any person at risk of exposure coming to campus. The College’s health center staff are available for consultations with any students who may have additional questions. We are carefully monitoring all international locations where Houghton College students are this semester. At the present time, all locations are deemed safe, and students will continue to benefit from their educational experiences.
- What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to other viruses like MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Coronaviruses commonly circulate in animals and sometimes also infect humans.
- What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms related to this coronavirus strain include fever (above 100.4 F), along with cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially for older individuals and those with other health conditions.
- How do I prevent coronavirus?
Much is not yet known about the virus, including how easily it can be transmitted. At this time, the primary risk factor appears to be related to the outbreak in China. It is still unclear how easily or sustainably the virus is spreading between people.
Students who have symptoms as described above – AND have traveled to Wuhan, China, or who have had contact with someone known to be infected with the coronavirus (or who is currently being tested) – are encouraged to call their treating physician or visit the College’s Health Center for consultation.
We also advise taking many of the same precautions recommended when protecting oneself against the flu: wash your hands frequently, don’t share food or drinks with others, and protect your immune system by getting adequate sleep.
- How do I know if I have the coronavirus or if it is just the flu?
Coronavirus symptoms and flu symptoms can be similar. However, at this time the novel coronavirus is primarily related to the outbreak in China. Even if you’ve traveled to this area – or have had contact with someone who has – if you have symptoms of fever, cough, body aches, it is possible that it could be the flu.
Students who have flu-like symptoms can visit the Health Center or call their primary care provider for consultation. We can help you determine whether to get assessment or treatment.
- What steps would the college take if a student or other community member were potentially exposed to the coronavirus?
If any person visiting affected countries (currently, China) is able to return to the United States, he or she would have been deemed a low risk for exposure by those overseeing entry into the country, and thus poses little threat to our community. Even with this assurance, however, Houghton College has taken additional preventative measures to assure that any person in this circumstance would limit his or her contact with the campus community. This person would be in quarantined isolation for at least the next fourteen days, with symptoms being closely monitored in close coordination with the ACDOH. Access to this person during the period of isolation will be closely contained. If, for any reason, a risk of exposure to those in the community is heightened, the College will release further guidance for the community. At this point, however, risk of exposure for the Houghton College community is low.
For additional questions:
Dr. David Brubaker, the college’s physician, has been closely coordinating the college’s response. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact him at the College’s Health Center (585.567.9484), the Student Life Office (585.567.9220), or Allegany County Environment Health Director Tyler Shaw (585-268-9254).
Last updated: 2/6/2020