This page will be updated frequently as conditions change.

About COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath) in people and others circulate mostly among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the risk to the American public of becoming infected with this novel coronavirus is low at this time.

No, influenza is a different type of virus though symptoms and transmission are similar to 2019-nCoV. Both can cause lower respiratory symptoms and fever and become very serious. Influenza is currently widespread and is best prevented by vaccine. If you have not yet received your flu shot, call 206-281-2231 to schedule an appointment.

Close contact includes scenarios like living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you, or you had direct contact with their body secretions.

Anyone with these symptoms should call Health Services or contact a healthcare provider or a testing site to discuss the need for testing:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches, headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has the virus.
  • If you think you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who does, STAY AWAY FROM OTHERS AND GET TESTED. Testing should be done immediately if you have symptoms AND 5-7 days after exposure regardless of symptoms. Negative tests (even PCR) do not rule out infection if done too early.

It’s a term used in infection control describing a practice of limiting potential exposure to diseases that are spread by droplet and contact with respiratory secretions. It includes limiting travel, avoiding large groups, and maintaining more than six feet of space between people.

What does this look like on a college campus?  We continue to emphasize personal care behaviors such as frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer use; wearing cloth face coverings in public spaces and covering our mouths and noses when we sneeze or cough; no sharing of utensils, food, or beverage containers; and staying home when we feel sick.

Call Health Services if you have concerns or questions at 206-281-2231 or call your primary care provider’s office. You should stay home if you think you have symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID-19 or any other infectious viral disease until you have talked to a health care provider. We are asking that any student, employee, volunteer or contractor who is at all concerned that they may have or have been exposed to COVID-19 to call Health Services to talk confidentially about your concerns before coming to campus.

  • Call Health Services or your primary care doctor to discuss your symptoms and access to COVID-19 testing. Stay home and consult SPU's Isolation/Quarantine Protocols.
  • Be sure to cover your coughs and sneezes, wear a mask, and avoid close contact with others.
  • Monitor your symptoms closely.
  • Rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids (water, herbal tea, & broth are best).
  • Take your temperature. 
  • Wash your hands frequently and be especially careful around infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call the Office of Safety and Security if you are on campus (206-281-2911) or call 911 or go to an emergency room if you are off campus.
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless you are experiencing severe symptoms. It’s better to call a health care professional first.

Call Health Services at 206-281-2231 to confidentially report exposures and discuss your specific circumstances. Testing and/or quarantine may be recommended for you. 

SPU staff may instruct residential students to isolate in specific units on campus if they are exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19, or may instruct residential students to quarantine in their on-campus units if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not exhibiting symptoms. Quarantine periods can vary, as determined by SPU Health Services.

Students who have been asked to isolate or quarantine in a designated campus location can find information about this process and available resources here.


  • Call Health Services or your primary care provider's office to discuss your symptoms. 
  • Common symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever or chills, cough, and shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These can be symptoms of other viral illnesses as well as COVID-19.
  • Stay home. See “What do I do if I feel sick?”

According to the Washington State Department of Health, people with preexisting health conditions are at higher risk to develop complications from a COVID-19 infection. Your health is the top priority, so public health officials may recommend that you stay home if there are more widespread community infections. The Department of Health has created guidelines to help you plan and prepare in the event of needing to limit time in public or if you become sick. Your health care team (primary care provider and specialists) can also help you assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and your household.  Please call Health Services at 206-281-2231 to talk about your specific situation if you have questions.

The CDC has a guide on how to prevent and mitigate the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. These steps include many of those listed above for personal health, as well as others relevant for broader community efforts.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol if water is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public spaces to protect those around you. 

For rules regarding face coverings please see SPU's COVID-19 Health and Safety Expectations.

King County has a list of anti-stigma resources here

It is normal to worry about things that are so alarming and in the news so much, especially when it seems we have little control over them.  If you need to talk about this with a campus counselor or health care provider contact the Student Counseling Center at 206-281-2657 or Health Services at 206-281-2231.