COVID-19 FAQ

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 about 10 minutes, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you, or you had direct contact with their body secretions.

Not everyone who is sick will need to be tested for COVID-19. Currently, the capacity for testing in Washington state is inadequate for the number of people who want to be tested. Therefore, only people at highest risk for serious illness are likely to be tested currently. Health officials are working on testing availability and this may increase access to testing soon.

Currently only healthcare providers can order testing in consultation with the county or state health departments. When to order these tests is determined by symptoms and risk factors. If you think you need to be tested, call Health Services and we can talk about your specific situation. Walk in testing is not currently available but this may change soon.

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? It’s not simple. We continue to emphasize personal care behaviors such as frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer use; 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 also stay home if you think you 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.

  • Monitor your symptoms closely.
  • Rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids (water, herbal tea, & broth are best).
  • Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.
  • Stay home from school and work until at least 72 hours after your fever ends. If you live in the dorms, stay in your room except as necessary and limit your contact with neighbors. Hall staff will help.
  • If you must go out of the house or be around others, be sure to cover your coughs and sneezes and wear a mask and avoid close contact with others.
  • 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.
  • Call Health Services or your primary care provider for any concerns or worsening symptoms or if you have a chronic health issue that may increase your risk for complications (asthma, immunosuppression, pregnancy etc).
  • If you have a medical emergency, call the Office of Safety and Security if you are on campus (x2911) 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. Know that you generally need to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to get infected.

  • Call Health Services at 206-281-2231.
  • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These can be symptoms of other respiratory 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.

You should wear a mask if you have a respiratory issue (such as a cough or difficulty breathing) and are in public, especially in a clinic or hospital. Some students may choose to wear a mask in public as their personal preference even if they are not sick. These are available in local stores, pharmacies, and online.

You do not need to wear a mask if you are not sick.

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. Remember that, in general, risk for contracting this disease is still low and the above measures to prevent the spread of infection are very effective. 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.

Alexander Hall

New dates for Spring Quarter

Pre-class assignments will be posted for students no later than April 3. Remote learning begins Monday, April 13.