How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same as those you would typically take during a normal flu season.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Stay home if you are sick with cold or influenza-type symptoms to minimize risk of transmission to others.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.

What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19?
If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and you are experiencing symptoms, Washington University students, faculty and staff should take the following steps:

  • Danforth Campus students, contact Habif Health and Wellness Center at 314-935-6677 or
  • Danforth Campus faculty and staff, contact your personal physician.
  • Medical Campus students and employees, email

I’ve been asked to self-quarantine, what does that mean?
If you have been told you must self-quarantine, you need to stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread and practice social distancing. (See list of locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure.)

Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds frequently.
  3. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not share meals, drinks, or utensils. Use your own bathroom if possible.
  4. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  5. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  6. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  7. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

What to do if you get sick

If you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing:

  • Seek medical care (Habif Health and Wellness Center if you are a Danforth Campus student, Student Health if you are a Medical Campus student, or your personal physician if you are faculty or staff)
  • Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.

On the last day of your quarantine all students, faculty and staff must contact university health services to be medically cleared.

Do I need a mask to protect myself?
In most instances, no. People who are sick with respiratory virus illnesses such as a cold, influenza, or COVID-19 can reduce the risk of spreading it to others by avoiding close contact with other people and by wearing a mask when they must go out in public. Masks are also important for providing protection to healthcare workers who are frequently in close contact with people sick from respiratory virus illnesses. There is little, if any, benefit for healthy people to routinely wear masks in public, particularly in the absence of widespread community transmission.

What should I do if I think someone in the university community, perhaps a roommate or classmate, might have been exposed to COVID-19?
If you’re worried that someone who shares physical space with you could be at risk for having COVID-19, you can contact university health services for advice.

What should I do if I learn or hear of a potential COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure within the university community?
If you have learned or heard of possible exposure to COVID-19 within the WashU community, please contact university health services to report this information.

Is there a vaccine to prevent COVID-19?
A vaccine is not available yet to prevent infection, but scientists around the world – including here at the School of Medicine – are involved in research on coronavirus that could lead to a vaccine. Any vaccine in development likely will not be available in the near future.

If I see emergency responders on campus wearing masks or other protective clothing, does that mean they are treating someone who has COVID-19?
No. Due to a change in protocol for Clayton EMS responders, they will be wearing more extensive protective clothing and masks for any call involving someone with a fever and respiratory symptoms.

What steps is the university taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the university community?
We are doing all we can to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus within our community. With most students and many employees living and working away from campus, we are continuing to take all necessary precautions to keep our community safe. The university is requiring all members of the community who have visited locations with a high incidence of COVID-19 to call university health services for instructions. You can see a current list of these areas, including those with university travel suspension conditions, on the COVID-19 travel-restricted locations information page. All students and employees must contact university health services for screening.

If the screening indicates that a person may be at risk for exposure to COVID-19, that person will be required to stay away from campus for 14 days, only returning to campus after receiving clearance.

What counseling and support resources are available?
We understand some 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. Here are some available resources:

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