Novel Coronavirus Resources and Updates
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) continue to monitor a novel strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. On Feb. 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.
Cornell officials are proactively working with local and state public health organizations to monitor this concern and to protect the health and well-being of the Cornell community. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in New York state. This resource page will continue to be updated as new or relevant information emerges.
Update on Novel Coronavirus (Feb. 9): At this time, no members of the Cornell community are undergoing testing for the Novel Coronavirus. There are still no confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus in New York state and the risk to the community remains low.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What do we know about the Novel Coronavirus?
The Novel Coronavirus is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. This virus likely originated from an animal source, but health authorities increasingly suspect that it’s spreading person-to-person. Currently, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
The latest research has determined an incubation period (time of infectivity to development of symptoms) of five days, with a range of 2-14 days. Details about the virus transmission are still being researched and developed. Visit the CDC website for ongoing updates.
What are the coronavirus symptoms?
Symptoms reported for patients with the novel coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Are there confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state?
No cases have been confirmed in New York state. The CDC is actively monitoring and updating their website with information on suspected and confirmed cases in the U.S.
Is there a vaccine?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against the novel coronavirus.
How do you test a person for the Novel Coronavirus?
At this time, diagnostic testing for the Novel Coronavirus can only be conducted through the CDC. If you are a person under investigation, your health care provider will work with the Tompkins County Health Department and CDC to obtain and send a laboratory specimen to the CDC for testing.
Are there ways to prevent contracting the virus?
The CDC recommends preventative actions to reduce the risk of developing the flu or other respiratory diseases, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, stay home.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you haven’t already been immunized against the flu, it is not too late to get a flu shot.
I’m sick. How do I know if it is coronavirus or something else, like the flu?
Coronavirus symptoms and flu symptoms can be similar, but the novel coronavirus is 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.
Ithaca students who have flu-like symptoms should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) for consultation. Cornell Tech students may call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) for consultation. You may also reach out to Cornell Tech’s Health & Wellness office at email@example.com.
Cornell Tech students who have symptoms as described above and have traveled to China — or have had contact with someone known to be infected with the coronavirus (or who is currently being tested) — should go to the Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian campus emergency room located at 585 E. 68th St. in Manhattan. Please call the emergency department ahead of time at 212-746-5454 to inform them that you will be arriving.
Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.
I have recently returned from a trip to China or have had contact with someone who may have the coronavirus and have respiratory symptoms. What should I do?
If you were in China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, do the following:
- Seek medical advice. Call before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
I’m worried about someone who might be sick or might have been exposed to coronavirus. What should I do?
If you know a student that has flu-like symptoms, you can encourage them to contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) to seek advice and care.
It is important to recognize that we are still in the midst of cold and flu season. CDC reports that influenza activity is, and will remain, high for the next several weeks. With many community members feeling under the weather, it is critical that we each strive to lead with compassion and empathy, and to avoid making assumptions based on someone’s perceived symptoms or identity.
Why isn’t Cornell requiring self-quarantine of those who have recently traveled to China?
Guidance from the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the CDC is informing the process of both Cornell University and the Tompkins County Health Department for prevention and response. The CDC and NYSDOH are not currently recommending that asymptomatic individuals already in the U.S. self-quarantine at this time.
Guidelines from the CDC are rapidly changing. Travelers from China arriving in the U.S. should carefully review the most updated health and travel information available from the CDC so you are aware of the risks associated, as well as any screenings and quarantine guidelines that may be in place at the time of your return. Note that travel restrictions into the U.S. may apply to certain travelers that have recently spent time in China; contact your airline in advance to understand current policy.
What is Cornell doing to protect the campus community?
Cornell is following CDC and WHO guidelines on screening and response protocols along with other measures to protect the health and well-being of our campus community. The CDC guides national testing criteria, and we follow their evidence-based protocols, in collaboration with Tompkins County and NY state public health authorities, when evaluating and supporting patients. As the CDC and WHO issue new guidelines related to screening or testing, we will adjust our clinical protocols to rapidly identify, evaluate and support patients and the Cornell community.
Why didn’t Cornell disclose the identity of the students undergoing testing?
To protect the safety and privacy of patients, the Tompkins County Health Department does not release any identifying information. It is also not the practice of Cornell University to release identifying information of our students.
Are campus events and activities being cancelled?
No, the campus is open, and classes, events, activities and services are operating on a normal schedule. If that were to change, the campus community would be notified immediately. Changes to campus operating status are relayed to the campus community through CornellALERT messages and at https://emergency.cornell.edu. Information regarding changes to individual classes, events and activities is provided by the sponsoring unit.
Will I be penalized if I don’t attend class?
If you feel ill, you should use the same judgment you would normally use about attending class, staying home or seeking medical care. You should always notify your professors if you are unable to attend class for any reasons. For specifics about what your college or class requires in order to excuse an absence, please contact your professor or your advising or student services office.
Can I still travel to China?
In response to growing concerns over the Novel Coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all nonessential travel to China be suspended at this time.
Based on this guidance, effective Jan. 29, the university will not permit Cornell-related undergraduate, graduate or professional student travel to mainland China until such time as Cornell’s International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) removes China from the elevated-risk destinations list.
Any faculty or staff member who wishes to travel to mainland China for Cornell-related scholarship or business must receive approval from ITART prior to travel.
If I see emergency responders on campus wearing masks or other protective clothing, does that mean they are treating someone who has the coronavirus?
No. Wearing masks, gowns and gloves are all standard procedures that emergency responders routinely follow when treating any respiratory illness — such as colds, flu and other viral illnesses — and are not specific to the novel coronavirus. Additionally, patients with respiratory illnesses may be asked to wear a mask to reduce the spread of droplets when they cough, sneeze or speak. This is similar to procedures in place at many hospitals and health care facilities, including Cornell Health.
Is it necessary for Cornell students to wear masks? If I do want a mask, where can I get one?
The CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks among the general public. We do understand the importance of wearing masks as part of the cultural norms in some communities. However, there are national mask shortages and Cornell must prioritize masks to be available for healthcare needs within Cornell Health. It is standard procedure at Cornell Health, as with any medical clinic, to ask patients with symptoms to wear masks inside the healthcare building to reduce spread of any infection. While Cornell Health has a sufficient supply of masks to meet patient care/infection control needs, its pharmacy no longer has the inventory required to support the sale of masks in bulk to the general public.
- Single masks are available for any individual coming to Cornell Health with symptoms.
- Ill students requiring additional masks can receive them from a provider during a medical appointment if indicated as part of their illness and recovery process.
- Individuals wanting to purchase larger supplies of masks are encouraged to look for online sources of supplies.
Are special cleaning products or procedures needed?
At this time, there are no special cleaning products or procedures needed. We will implement any new protocols if they are recommended by the CDC or Tompkins County Health Department.
What counseling and support resources are available at Cornell?
We understand some Cornell community members may feel anxious about this evolving public health situation or have concerns about friends and family living in areas currently experiencing the outbreak.
- Students on the Ithaca campus may contact Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Other helpful resources include consultation and EARS peer counseling.
- Students at Cornell Tech may contact Student Services for support.
- Faculty and staff in Ithaca and New York City may contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP).
- Confidential care and support for individuals affected by bias is also available and any member of the community can report a bias incident or related concerns.