FAQ: What is WAU Doing?

What is WAU doing to keep the campus community informed?

WAU is using multiple communication channels to keep the campus community informed. This includes:

· Creation of a website, www.wau.edu/virus.(opens in a new tab)

· Contacting individuals who may have recently traveled in an area affected by the coronavirus.

· Contacting deans and other university leaders asking them to disseminate this information.

· Emailing the campus community at large.


How will WAU notify the university community if there is a case of novel coronavirus at WAU?

The Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services (MCDHHS) is the official source of information about confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at WAU or anywhere in the county. The university will notify the university community via www.wau.edu/virus , WAU app, emails, and will work closely with the MCDHHS if additional notification is needed. At this time, the State’s Public Health Laboratory in Baltimore confirmed the first three positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maryland on Thursday, March 5. The patients, who contracted the virus while traveling overseas, are in good condition. County health officials, along with emergency management officials, are working closely with State and Federal health officials to respond and plan should the situation change. 

On March 8, one additional case was confirmed in Montgomery County. Maryland’s total number of cases is currently five–four cases in Montgomery County and one case in Harford County (as of 3/8/20). There are currently more than 500 cases of the virus reported in the United States (as of 3/9/2020). Eighteen states are reporting cases. There have now been 22 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 (as of 3/9/2020). Per MCDHHS protocol, neither MCDHHS nor WAU will comment on rumors of suspected cases or on suspected cases that may be under evaluation.


Has WAU been proactively reaching out to students returning to campus from High-Risk Countries?

Yes. The university is taking proactive and prudent measures to ensure the health and safety of the entire WAU community. They also recommend that all students self-isolate and contact Dr. Cecelia Lester (301.891.3030) if they experience specific symptoms that may indicate exposure to the coronavirus.


Is WAU coordinating with health agencies?

WAU is consulting with the Montgomery County health authorities on these and other measures, as well as following the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


What is WAU doing to make sure it is responding appropriately?

A team of very experienced professionals representing all major administrative areas of the university is working together to monitor and respond to this evolving situation. WAU officials are also in consultation with the county health department, as well as following the latest guidelines and information regarding coronavirus provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


FAQ: Health Questions and Concerns


What is the risk to people in the United States? Change to: Who is at risk for the COVID-19 virus?

The potential public health threat posed by the COVID-19 virus is high, both globally and to the United States. But the individual risk is dependent on exposure.

  • For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
  • Under current circumstances, certain people will have an increased risk of infection, for example, healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 and other close contacts of persons with COVID-19. CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.

Risk assessment may change depending on how and where new cases appear.

To minimize the chance of spreading, health officials are working to promptly identify and evaluate any suspected cases. On January 17, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began public health entry screening at multiple airports in the U.S. (San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta) where most travelers from Wuhan, China arrive. Additional airports will be added as needed. Travelers to and from certain areas of the world may be at increased risk. Visit the CDC website for the latest travel guidance.

The CDC has recommended that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to the People’s Republic of China (this does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or the island of Taiwan) and South Korea. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan and other cities in the Hubei province, including buses, trains, and the international airport. 


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia

Learn HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF(opens in a new tab).


Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.


How severe is the COVID-19 virus?

Health experts are still learning about the range of illness from this virus. Cases reported have ranged from mild illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalizations. So far, the deaths from this virus have occurred mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.


How does the COVID-19 spread?

Health officials are still learning the details of how this new virus spread. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes


What can I do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

· Stay home when you are sick.

· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

· Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

· DO NOT TRAVEL if you are sick

CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the virus to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers(opens in a new tab) and people who are taking care of someone in close settings(opens in a new tab) (at home or in a health care facility).

· Wash 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, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing(opens in a new tab) website

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings(opens in a new tab)

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers(opens in a new tab).


What should I do if I think I have contracted COVID-19?

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading(opens in a new tab) to people in your home and community.

Stay home except to get medical care

People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 can isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people infected with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are infected with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. See COVID-19 and Animals(opens in a new tab) for more information.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a facemask

You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.

Soap and water are the best options if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor your symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

Discontinuing home isolation

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.


What medical facility will students go to if they are feeling ill? Who to call besides their primary health care provider or Disease Control? 

There is an urgent care facility adjacent to campus where the WAH Emergency Room was previously (7600 Carroll Ave.) If you do not have a primary care doctor, please contact Cecilia Lester @ (301) 891-3030. Please reach out in advance to give professionals time to prepare for your arrival


What is the difference between COVID-19 and FLU symptoms?

According to the CDC:


Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*(opens in a new tab)

· Fever

· Cough

· Shortness of breath


Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

· Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

· cough

· sore throat

· runny or stuffy nose

· muscle or body aches

· headaches

· fatigue (tiredness)

· some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.


What is WAU’s protocol if a student or employee feels ill, reports symptoms of novel coronavirus and need medical care?

To ensure the health and safety of the university community, WAU is in consultation with county health authorities to implement measures — including procedures for WAU students who report possible symptoms or recent travel to areas impacted by the novel coronavirus. In the event a WAU student meets the criteria for possible infection, you should seek medical attention. If you have returned from China, South Korea, Italy, Japan, or Iran in the last two weeks AND have symptoms, call ahead to your medical provider to let them know you are coming. Calling ahead will allow the provider to take precautions when you arrive. 

Your physician or health care provider will assess your symptoms and determine if diagnostic testing for the COVID-19 virus is appropriate. If your health care provider suspects COVID-19, THEY will coordinate testing with the local and state health departments. You may also call the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ Disease Control Office to speak with a nurse. The number is 240-777-1755.

At this time, the university is not aware of any students, faculty, or staff who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. The university community needs to know that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers this to be a severe public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk to the general American public is deemed to be low at this time.


What should I do if I have additional questions or concerns?


Students who have concerns about their health should contact their health care provider immediately before seeing them (so they can prepare for your arrival), if they do not have a primary care provider, contact Montgomery County Disease Control at (240) 777-1755. For any questions regarding on-campus living arrangements, students and/or their families should contact WAU Student Life at 301-891-4525.

Faculty, Staff and Visiting Scholars

Faculty, staff, and visiting scholars should contact their primary care provider (Give advanced notice to give the office time to prepare). 


Members of the press should contact WAU’s Corporate Communications Department at (405) 802-5661.


FAQ: Cultural Awareness


Should I be concerned if I see people on campus wearing surgical/respiratory masks?

No. Wearing surgical masks are common in many cultures, where people use masks to reduce inhalation of pollutants, prevent germs from spreading, reduce the risk of infection and to provide themselves with peace of mind during cold and flu season.


Why are international students important to WAU?

WAU is committed to creating a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive community that serves as a foundation for achieving excellence and success. The university community includes students from more than 50 countries who make WAU a great, globally-minded institution. They also add immeasurable academic and cultural value – including research, scholarship, and creative activity – that impact and positively change our campuses, as well as our local and global communities.


FAQ: Quarantine Guidelines


I traveled to a High-Risk Country and returned to the U.S. What should I do?

Individuals entering the United States from Hubei Province, China, or other High-Risk Countries, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days after leaving Hubei. The quarantine will be controlled by the CDC and/or state health officials. This quarantine will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not.

Individuals entering the United States from areas of China other than Hubei or a High-Risk Country will be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be actively monitored by local and/or state health officials and will be in effect whether the individual is sick or not. Please make your R.A. and Residence Hall Director or assistant aware of your symptoms as soon as possible.


I’m a WAU student affected by the new quarantine guidelines. How will this affect my studies at WAU?

Undergraduate students who are under either a mandatory or voluntary quarantine should contact the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education, Dr. Patrick Williams pawillia@wau.edu(opens in a new tab).

Graduate students should contact the Office of the Dean of School of Graduate Studies, Brenda Chase bchase@wau.edu(opens in a new tab). The university understands that quarantined students will need additional support to manage their coursework while under quarantine. We will work with students on a one-on-one basis to assist so that they may complete their assignments while adhering to the quarantine.


Will I be allowed to continue residing on campus if I am affected by the quarantine guidelines?

The Montgomery County Department of Health will work with WAU officials to make arrangements for any WAU student who is impacted by the quarantine measures. It will vary depending on the situation. The health and safety of all students is the priority for the university. 


What if I am under quarantine and live off-campus?

The Montgomery County Department of Health will directly contact any students, faculty, staff, or visiting scholars who reside off-campus and have been quarantined. The local health department will provide further guidance and instruction on what to do.


What is WAU Campus Counselor doing to assist students who may need mental health support during this stressful time?

Any WAU student who is experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family or friends in China is asked to contact the WAU Campus Counselor at 301-891-4089 or email kbaxter@wau.edu(opens in a new tab) to schedule a same-day appointment.  


Where can I get information about the university’s response?

The latest updates from the university are posted at www.wau.edu/virus(opens in a new tab).

Faculty and staff members can contact Human Resources at 301-891-4542 or hr@wau.edu(opens in a new tab).


I am planning to travel to a High-Risk Country soon. What should I do?

WAU has suspended all university-sponsored international travel for the 2019-20 school year or until CDC clears travel.


FAQ: Insurance Implications (from Adventist Risk Management)


Insurance Implications

Adventist Risk Management (ARM) has received a number of questions about how our travel insurance policies relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. Below are answers to our most frequently asked questions:


Q. I have already booked a trip and need to cancel because of COVID-19. Will my travel insurance policy reimburse me for any incurred costs?

 A. No. Trip interruption and cancellation benefits are not triggered by the threat of infection, regardless of your destination. However, many airlines and travel providers have started offering refunds or penalty-free cancellations due to COVID-19. Travelers who need to change their travel plans should check with their travel providers to see if they are eligible for a refund.


 Q. If I am already traveling overseas in a country with an outbreak of COVID-19, will my travel insurance pay for my trip home?

 A. No. There is no coverage in any of ARM’s policies for costs incurred to travel home because of an outbreak/pandemic.


Q. Will my travel insurance policy cover my medical expenses if I have to be treated for COVID-19 while I am overseas?

 A. Yes, your medical expense benefit is the same, regardless of your illness. It is a reimbursement policy, meaning you will pay for treatment upfront and request reimbursement later.


 Q. Will insurance pay for me to be evacuated when traveling outside my home country?

 A. No, if you choose to leave because you feel unsafe due to the COVID-19. Yes, if you get sick from COVID-19, depending on the recommendation of the insurance plan’s doctors working with local doctors and governments, you may be eligible to be evacuated, but this may not be to your home country.


 Q. Who should I notify if I am sick or in an accident while traveling?

 A. In all medical-related emergencies, we advise that you seek medical attention first and then contact our assistance provider, International SOS(opens in a new tab).  



This is an ongoing situation that is evolving quickly. For updated information regarding the spread of the virus and travel advisories, please consult the following resources:

 World Health Organization – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak(opens in a new tab)

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)(opens in a new tab)

 International SOS – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak(opens in a new tab)

 U.S. State Department – Current Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)