ULM Releases University Update On COVID-19
University of Louisiana Monroe President Nick J. Bruno, Jr., Ph.D., released a letter to the students, faculty and staff, providing information on the university’s preparations for the spread of coronavirus.
The president’s letter is as follows:
I want to keep you updated on the latest information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact to campus.
Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed on Tuesday, March 10 that Louisiana now has six presumptive cases of COVID-19. Because these are presumptive cases, further testing is required to confirm the patient has the virus. All presumptive cases are in the New Orleans area.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses, at times, can evolve and infect people, then spread through human-to-human contact.
The CDC states that human coronavirus spreads similar to the flu or a cold — through the air by coughing or sneezing; through close personal contact, like touching or shaking hands; by touching an object or surface with the viruses on it.
While the risk of contraction for the general population is low, older adults and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions – such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at higher risk for developing serious COVID-19 illness.
I encourage you to stay informed on preventative measures that can be taken. Some preventative measures issued by the University of California San Diego are:
- Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involved locations where other people have been.
- No handshaking! Use a fist bump or elbow bump.
- Use only your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.
- Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones, and other commonly touched areas.
- Open doors with a closed hand or your hip, especially important for the bathroom and commercial doors.
- Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when available to wipe shopping cart handles.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands.
- Contain – if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
What is the University doing to prepare?
ULM has canceled one study abroad program, the MBA study abroad program in Hong Kong. Also, ULM canceled a two-week exchange program with visiting students and faculty members from Japan, along with a scholar from Japan that had a one-year planned stay. The University of Louisiana System has also canceled a program in Italy.
The university will release a revised travel policy that applies to all students, faculty, and staff, with guidelines to follow during university-sponsored travel or personal travel. The revised travel policy states:
(1) All university-sponsored travel to Level 1 or greater countries as defined by the CDC is prohibited;
(2) Discourages international personal travel;
(3) ULM strongly urges extreme caution and judgment for your personal domestic travel; the university continues to monitor conditions within the United States and take appropriate action relative to travel if warranted;
(4) 14-day quarantine period for travelers to CDC listed Level 1 or greater countries
(5) Mandatory reporting of travel to Affected Countries to the Director of Environmental Health and Safety;
Communication regarding the revised travel policy will be sent out this week. Shane Dykes, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, will be the campus point of contact for this process. Mr. Dykes will regularly provide updates regarding interim coronavirus policies.
ULM is aggressively reviewing its Business Continuity Plan. The university is a complex organization, and each department is reviewing business practices to determine if it is possible to work remotely, if needed. Some university functions cannot work remotely, and there will be guidance in place for employees that must report to work.
The success of our students is a top priority of ULM. Academic Affairs is exploring online instruction options. It is anticipated that a full Business Continuity Plan will be completed within a week.
The university janitorial/custodial staff has begun to clean all “high touch” surfaces every day, such as countertops, tabletops, and doorknobs with CDC recommended cleaning and disinfecting products. The janitorial and custodial staff is also continuously refilling all campus antibacterial and soap dispensers.
Additionally, the College of Health Sciences and College of Pharmacy will be hosting a COVID-19 seminar that will share information and research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other resources, and address some of the most frequently asked questions and myths related to COVID-19. The seminar is free and open to the public and will be held Tuesday, March 17 at 12 noon, in the Terrace (7th floor of the University Library). The event will also be livestreamed on the ULM Facebook page.
ULM is committed to the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We are following guidelines and best practices in alignment with the CDC, Governor John Bel Edwards’ Coronavirus Task Force, and the University of Louisiana System.
Please be sure to download the ULM Safe App to stay up to date on campus alerts.
I will continue to keep you informed as we continue to monitor the situation.
For more information, visit http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus.
The latest information on the coronavirus in the U.S. and worldwide can be found on the CDC website.
Nick J. Bruno, Jr., Ph.D.