UA System Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources
Updated Interim Emergency Policy for UA, UAB and UAH UPDATED March 12, 2020
Update to Interim Emergency Policy Statement – Information Regarding Spring Break UPDATED March 11, 2020
Update to UA System’s COVID-19 Interim Emergency Policy Statement – UPDATED March 9, 2020
University of Alabama System Interim Emergency Policy Statement Regarding the 2019 Coronavirus – UPDATED March 4, 2020
UA System Spring Break Communications March 11, 2020
UA System Issues Domestic Travel Advisory March 9, 2020
University of Alabama System Cancels International Travel Departing During March 2020
Sources for the Most Recent Information
Virtual Meeting Attendance and Telecommuting
Free Zoom accounts are available to all faculty, staff and students in the UA System. Additional information and the form to obtain an account can be found on the IITS website.
Travel Restrictions and Guidelines
All University-sponsored international travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 destinations (COVID-19) is suspended effective immediately. Faculty, staff and students MAY NOT TRAVEL outside the United States for University business or academic purposes (“University-sponsored travel”), including but not limited to study abroad or other international academic work, research or grant activity, internships, conferences or presentations, teaching or training, performances, recruiting, or athletic competitions.
University-sponsored travel to other countries outside of North America (designated CDC Level 1 (COVID-19)) departing in the month of March has been cancelled. Future University-Sponsored travel outside of the United States is suspended effective immediately. Decisions on those future programs are ON HOLD and will be addressed as soon as possible. Individuals who choose to travel to a CDC Level 1 destination at this time should know that the global situation is rapidly evolving, and the risk of acquiring COVID-19 may change abruptly. Moreover, disruptions in return travel may occur and the possibility of quarantine upon return to the U.S. cannot be excluded. For this reason, travel for faculty, staff, and students on University-sponsored business or programs to Level 1 countries departing in the month of March, has been cancelled.
What You Should Know
- The UA System has extensive expertise and systems in place to monitor and address possible infectious diseases, and our institutions have comprehensive plans to address emergencies, including infectious disease.
- The risk for Alabamians remains relatively low at this time, and the University of Alabama System— along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health — are closely monitoring the situation. This new coronavirus can cause mild illness that can be overcome, but more severe cases can be life-threatening.
Precautions and Preparedness
While international locations are experiencing a large number of cases of COVID-19, the United States has had only a few cases. The CDC recommends general precautions to prevent the spread of viral respiratory infections, such as frequent handwashing, covering your cough and avoiding large gatherings.
Wash your hands
- Make sure your hands are as clean as possible. Wash your hands as much as you can, especially before you eat anything, before making food for other people and after you use the restroom. Wash your hands anytime you touch a doorknob or any other items touched by others; if there is hand-sanitizer around, use it.
- Lather your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; sing or hum ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice.
- Be cautious of touching your face. Every time you touch a door handle and then scratch your nose, you are susceptible to contracting viruses.
Traveling and more
- Follow the CDC and local health care authorities’ guidance regarding travel to areas with active disease. Experts recommend using common sense to be safe and careful in traveling.
- As with any respiratory virus, the main recommendations hold true with the novel coronavirus. Wash your hands, cover your cough with your arm, and stay home if you feel sick. Wearing surgical masks out in public is not recommended, as brief exposure to the virus in public is unlikely to make a person sick. Most cases have occurred when there has been prolonged contact, such as with health care professionals or family members serving as a caregiver. Use of masks is recommended for health care professionals, caregivers and those with disease symptoms.
- In the United States, we have seen very few cases of COVID-19. However, we are still seeing a large number of influenza cases that are causing many hospitalizations across the United States.
- It’s important at this time to get to your flu shot if you have not already done so.
- If you have symptoms and need to see a health care professional, call ahead to your health care provider, so that they can take appropriate precautions to treat you and safeguard themselves and others in the clinic or hospital when you arrive.
- While washing your hands is always recommended, certain foods and supplements can help boost your immune system, potentially protecting your body from germs.
- Foods that contain indole-3-carbinols have been found to reduce the number of viral infections — while this hasn’t been specifically tested in coronaviruses, the prevention of any viral illnesses that may weaken your immune system is and will be important. These foods include leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, etc. They can be cooked or raw.
- Elderberry has certain compounds that have been approved by the FDA for use in flavoring of food. There are many studies on the antiviral and antimicrobial activity of elderberry. Some studies have shown elderberry to bind to some subtypes of the flu virus to prevent cell entry. However, there are still more studies needed to confirm whether this is true substantial benefit.
- You can also boost your immune system by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress.
- There are no data to support that increased Vitamin C helps prevent or shorten viral illnesses. In fact, studies looking at this have shown no benefit. Utilizing the leafy greens above in a smoothie can be an easy way to increase intake, but strictly drinking orange or pineapple juice does not have proof of benefit.
Protect your home and loved ones
- Now is the time to disinfect and clean your home. Use isopropyl alcohol, or disinfecting wipes, to wipe down countertops and common areas.
- Keep the surfaces of your home clean, especially areas where you eat and spend the most time. Use soap and water to wash your hands after you touch contaminated areas, such as doorknobs, toilet and faucet handles, and any cooking items. If you do not have access to soap and water, use hand-sanitizer.
- Avoid shaking hands with others right now. If you do, wash your hands or use sanitizer right away, especially before touching your face.
- Limit the amount of time spent in public places and avoid people who are sick, including those who are coughing or presenting symptoms. If you have a fever or other symptoms, stay home. If your children have a fever, do not send them to school. Consider working from home if your workplace allows it.
- Plan ahead for your daily medications. Be sure that you have plenty of the medicines that you routinely take so that if ill you can avoid going out in public to retrieve these things. In the case of a pandemic or major outbreak in the U.S., it is a good idea to stock up on non-perishable foods should your community be quarantined.
- Currently, we are still in peak-influenza season. If you have not received a flu shot, it is not too late. To find where you can get the flu vaccine near you, visit the CDC Vaccine Finder website.
Latest Guidance from ADPH for Recent Travelers
- The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) considers an individual being anywhere in China, or a country with active community transmission within the previous 14 days, a risk factor for COVID-19. ADPH is communicating with travelers returning from China to provide guidance about limiting public interactions for 14 days, which is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current guidance for returning travelers. However, this is an evolving situation and more geographic areas may be added soon.
- Students and staff returning from China or areas with active community transmission may have been exposed to COVID-19 and must self-monitor symptoms for 14 days after leaving the affected area. Students and staff must contact ADPH Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks Division at 800-338-8374 immediately upon return to Alabama. These students and staff must be excluded from school for the duration of this monitoring period. They are asked to remain home and to avoid congregate group settings such as church, concerts, buses, etc.
- Students or staff members who return from an affected area who develop symptoms compatible with COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within their 14-day monitoring period, should take the following steps:
- Separate themselves from others as much as possible. Immediately notify ADPH Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks Division at 1-800-338-8374.
- If they experience an urgent health situation, seek medical care right away. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell staff about recent travel and symptoms.
- Restrict travel to private vehicle or medical transport (e.g., ambulance). No public transportation while sick.