Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Middle Georgia State University is closely monitoring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak that was first detected in China earlier this year and has since spread to other countries. The University System of Georgia has also been monitoring the outbreak and is offering frequent direction and updates, in line with the guidance being offered by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the US State Department, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).
This outbreak triggered the declaration of a global health emergency last month. Last night, two cases of COVID-19 were reported in Fulton County. As yet, there have been no reported cases in Middle Georgia, but MGA is developing plans that will be put into effect should the need arise.
Last week, I established a task force to review and implement these plans, co-chaired by our Director of Public Safety, Chief of Police Tripp Mitchell and our Assistant Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Cheryl Carty. Other members of this task force include representatives and experts from divisions across the University, and they are continuing to monitor the outbreak and preparing to respond – in coordination with local, state, and federal partners – with plans to best protect our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. More information from this task force will be available in the coming days and weeks.
The CDC has extensive information about coronaviruses available on their website, which is being updated regularly. Officials are conducting health screenings for passengers arriving from the sites of outbreaks at several airports, including Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the seasonal flu – and this is the time of year when we typically see a rise in cases of seasonal flu. The same best-practices that apply to helping prevent the spread of flu apply to COVID-19:
· Washing hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, and use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
· Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then immediately placing the tissue in a trash can, or covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve when tissue is not available
· Staying at home when experiencing symptoms of illness.
The CDC also recommends a flu vaccination for those who have not yet done so – although please note that a flu vaccination is not protection against COVID-19.
We recognize that many of you are receiving or have questions of your own related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Please reference the FAQ’s published by the University System of Georgia, as well as additional resources and information below:
- University System of Georgia Coronavirus FAQs
- Georgia Department of Public Health Information for Schools and Universities (PDF)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Georgia Department of Public Health
- U.S. Department of State
We appreciate your patience and your calm as we continue to update plans and develop new strategies for dealing with COVID-19. Please continue to observe the prevention strategies outlined above, and contact Chief of Police, Tripp Mitchell if you have questions or concerns. Finally, let me stress again that if you find yourself experiencing symptoms of illness, you should stay at home. It is important we each respect our own health and that of our community here at MGA. Please take care of yourself and be considerate of your students and colleagues during this time. Further information from the task force will be forthcoming as appropriate.
More information can be found here: www.mga.edu/healthtopics