COVID-19 is a coronavirus that is causing a pandemic of respiratory illness. Currently, COVID-19 is spreading easily and sustainably in the community in many affected geographic areas across the world, including the United States (U.S.).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:
- The virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is spreading very easily, efficiently and sustainably between people and can result in severe illness and even death.
- It is newly identified and much is still unknown about it.
The virus is primarily transmitted from person to person mainly through respiratory droplets. The illness can be transmitted readily, especially to those in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Transmission of the illness can occur even when the person has mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This is known as asymptomatic transmission.
COVID-19 is spread:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- By respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, or even talks.
- Less commonly by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.
- Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are reported in all states.
- Where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported, people are at elevated risk of exposure. The level of their risk depends on their location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of people with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with their level of risk depending on where they traveled.
Risk of severe illness
Based on current information, persons at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
- People 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions
All GU community members will continue to be asked to track symptoms throughout the spring. This includes students and employees.
Students: The number of positive cases in Washington (and Spokane) has steadily increased, raising renewed concern among students, parents, faculty, staff and public health officials about the safety of returning to campuses. Accordingly, you must be extra vigilant for the seven (7) days prior to arriving in Spokane in January and employ COVID-19 public health measures (wearing masks when in public, limiting contact with other people and physical distancing, no attendance at large gatherings or parties, etc.). If you are feeling ill, have COVID-19 related symptoms, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should NOT come to campus. You should be tested and quarantine until receiving the results of the test. You may work with your advisor and Housing & Residence Life staff to create a return plan that keeps you on your academic track.
Employees are required to formally attest that they do not present with symptoms prior to returning to work using the ZagCheck app.
According to the CDC, there are still no specific antiviral treatment currently recommended for COVID-19.
People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
For current information about the COVID-19 public health pandemic, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page or the Spokane Regional Health District page.
The Washington State Department of Health has a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, or what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.