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URMC response to global COVID-19 outbreak

Note: This message was sent to staff at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the February 28 issue of URMC This Week.

Earlier today, you received a message from University Communications that addressed campus-wide concerns about the spread of novel coronavirus. We want to address questions unique to those who work in the Medical Center.

The current flood of news reports and social media postings can make it feel like all of us face imminent danger from COVID-19, but it’s important to keep a few key facts in mind:

  • At this moment (Feb. 28), there are no known cases of COVID-19 in New York State.
  • For most people in reasonably good health, the symptoms will be similar to a cold or mild flu; while any infectious disease poses a risk, the vast majority of COVID-19 cases globally are mild and do not require extensive treatment.
  • Nationally 62 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed—59 of which are travel-related, 2 were household members of confirmed cases, and 1 is in an area with confirmed cases.
  • Not all of these patients are symptomatic, and no patients in the U.S. have died from the disease.
  • If in the future we see cases of COVID-19 here, we are prepared to care for them in a way that is safe for patients and staff.
Steps to Stay Healthy
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water (wash for at least 20 seconds) or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are a care provider, follow standard PPE protocols when taking care of patients.
  • If 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.
  • Get your flu vaccine. It’s not too late!
New COVID-19 Intranet Portal

We have created a web portal for clinical staff to house all information related to COVID-19. It contains updated URMC information, past communications, and links to outside resources. Look for a link off the URMC Intranet under “Happening Now,” as well as a link from the Infectious Disease division’s Public Health Information site.

Medical Center Response

URMC leadership, faculty, and staff have an ongoing process for responding to a potential emergence of COVID-19 in our community. We are working closely with the Monroe County Health Department, the New York State Department of Health, and the CDC.

Our response includes a comprehensive policy that outlines procedures with respect to triage, diagnosis, and isolation of patients of suspected COVID-19 patients, and guidance to be used by providers and staff who will provide care to or come into contact with these patients. This information is available in the COVID-19 portal and will be emailed directly to clinical providers.

The spread and potential impacts of this new virus are concerning for everyone, but our institution is well prepared to deal with challenges it may bring. Thank you for the work you do every day to provide safe, high-quality care to our patients.

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