Health Advisories

 


Coronavirus Update 3/17/20:

As online classes begin next week, we realize this is a difficult time of transition for students, staff and faculty. The campus is not the same without our students. You are greatly missed!!  RWU will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and will provide periodic updates on the main RWU website under COVID-19 Planning and Response. 

Remember, whether you are at home or on campus, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The following preventive actions will help to reduce the spread of infection:

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and warm water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel with at least 60% alcohol;
• Sneeze and cough into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue;
• If you are sick, stay home from work, school. Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
• Do not share utensils, water bottles, or other personal items. Many germs that cause viral illness are spread through saliva;
• Wipe down common items like phones, keyboards, doorknobs, and railings with a disinfectant;
• Do not travel if you are sick. If you have a recurring fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your Health Services or your primary care doctor.

Students remaining on campus who are ill should call RWU Health Services at 401-254-3156 or 401-254-3757 to speak with a nurse or provider per the recommendation of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Students who are at home should contact their health care provider's office.

 

Stay well!!

Coronavirus Update: 3/4/20        

With Spring Break starting on Friday most students will be returning home to their communities or traveling. Monday’s advisory from President Miaoulis strongly recommended that students not travel internationally and there are important reasons for that – including the possibility that students may not be able to return to the United States. It is not only international travel that poses risk; currently the number of U.S. infections remains low but is expected to increase over the weeks ahead. Students have been asking questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), how best to protect themselves, and some “what If” scenarios that we will address in this advisory before break begins.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coronavirus and how is it transmitted? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illnesses. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that had not been identified previously in humans. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person coughing and sneezing on somebody within 6 feet range (close contact), by touching an infected person's hands or face, or by touching an object or surface that an infected person has touched. Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.  

What are the signs that you are sick? Some symptoms of COVID-19 infection are similar to Influenza such as fever, cough and body aches. Additional specific symptoms often include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory illness, kidney failure, and death. However, it is important to note that healthy young people are significantly less likely to become seriously ill compared to older adults. 

How can I best protect myself and friends from infection? Standard measures to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus include: frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. In addition to hand washing, disinfecting hands using hand sanitizer gel containing at least 60% alcohol and using Clorox or equivalent bleach wipes to wipe down surfaces and seat handles is effective.  Protect your immune system with proper rest, exercise and nutrition habits.

Is there a vaccine or treatment available? Not currently. There is a vaccine in early development and an antiviral treatment is being tested in China and the United States.

I have decided to travel out of the country despite the warning – can I be tested when I return to campus to make sure I didn’t come in contact with the virus? No. Testing will be reserved for individuals who are ill.  The R.I. Dept. of Health (DOH) is in the beginning stages of providing test kits to University health centers and Primary Physician offices and guiding, when authorized, those health care providers to collect specimens to send out for testing. Testing will be done at local hospital emergency rooms for individuals who have symptoms and meet other screening criteria until we update you otherwise. Individuals who suspect they may be infected are asked to contact their primary health care providers or Health Services at RWU by phone for screening before going to a health care facility.   

Will Health Services staff be available by phone over the break for consults? YES, Health Services will be available from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday next week. In addition, we will have 2 Nurse Practitioners available by phone for Triage consultation and referrals on Sunday, March 15th from 11 am to 3 pm. To reach Health Services, please dial (401) 254-3156.

Before returning to campus, if I experience flu like symptoms, what should I do before returning to campus to make sure I don’t have Coronavirus? If you are in your home community contact your primary care physician’s office and ask to be screened for COVID-19. You may also access RWU Health Services by phone as described above.  Stay at home until you have been properly diagnosed and advised of any restrictions or precautions.  

Once back on campus from break, if I think I might have the Coronavirus, should I go to RWU Health Services or to a primary care provider’s office or hospital? While other states may provide different guidance, the DOH in R.I. is requesting patients that suspect they may be infected by COVID-19 to not enter health care settings and risk infecting others. Instead, stay in your residence and call Health Services or your primary care provider for screening and if deemed appropriate by a medical professional – a referral location and procedure for testing will be provided.  Note – other states may have different procedures and the above guidance is subject to change.

What If a student becomes ill with COVID 19 and needs to be quarantined.  The University would consult with and follow guidance from the RI DOH and the Center for Disease Control in determining whether a student should go home or be quarantined on campus.  Home country or state as well as the condition of infected individuals will be considered in decision-making. Students that have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID 19 will also need to be quarantined either at home or on campus and monitored for symptoms.  

What will happen with my classes if I need to be quarantined? As always, the health of our students and other community members is paramount.  Should a student need to be quarantined or becomes ill with COVID 19, they will be asked to contact the Center for Student Academic Success to gain assistance with determining an academic plan.  Allison Chase Padula, Associate Dean of Student Success, has been designated as the contact for students and their families for academic issues related to the virus.  Dean Chase Padula will work with the student and faculty to develop individual plans to facilitate completion of coursework or explore other options, including a medical leave of absence (working with Student Life).  This process does not differ significantly with how the University currently handles situations that require students to be out of class due to medical emergencies.  

In closing, it is important for students to read and understand the above information, make informed decisions whether traveling or at home, and reduce their risk for infection.  Information about COVID-19 is still unfolding and constantly under review.  However, at this time the risk remains low both regionally and nationally and health officials are constantly monitoring the situation and advising care providers. We have no reported cases on campus. The RWU Emergency Response Team will continue meeting weekly and regularly updating and advising students, faculty and staff about COVID 19 developments and action steps on campus. 

Anne M. Mitchell, MSN, FNP                                                                              
Director of Health Services                                                                                    

John J. King, ED.D.
Vice President for Student Life

 Health Advisory Update: 3/4/20

Based on the latest Centers for Disease Control advisories on international student travel, RWU has made the difficult decision to cancel all university-sponsored international travel during spring break. As we experienced with our Florence, Italy study abroad program, the CDC rapidly elevated Italy to Level 3 Travel Warning as the number of COVID-19 cases multiplied in less than one week. 

These steps to cancel spring break travel and return our students from study abroad in Italy have been taken out of an abundance of caution to minimize our campus community’s risk of exposure to coronavirus and to prevent a situation in which our students and faculty might become stranded internationally should travel restrictions be implemented while they are overseas. The students returning from Italy will return to their homes, where we are advising them to follow CDC recommendations to self-quarantine.

 We are now also seeing the first coronavirus cases here at home and while concerns are valid, the number of reported cases and risk remains low at this time. This virus is moving like the common flu, but it is nowhere near as bad as we are experiencing this flu season, with only 105 coronavirus cases reported in the U.S. today compared to 19 million cases of the common flu. 

At this time, RWU is following the same practices and protocols for preventing the spread of the common flu. We are advising students and employees who feel ill to stay home and to take preventive measures to limit the spread of flu and other similar viruses.                    

Health Advisory Update: 3/1/20

Dear campus community,

The University emergency response team (ERT) continues to monitor and assess our institutional planning related to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The University ERT is meeting frequently to discuss our supplies, procedures, and readiness to respond to the various scenarios that may occur in the weeks ahead.

Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised Italy to Level 3 Travel Warning, and as such, RWU has suspended its study abroad program with ISI Florence and has begun the process of returning students home. The University has made arrangements with ISI Florence to allow our students to complete their coursework online.

In this rapidly evolving situation, the University is doing its part to be prepared, being mindful of both of our campuses, along with the various locations our students, faculty, and staff are currently or may be traveling or learning abroad in the weeks and months ahead.

We continue to encourage all members of the university community to do their part to practice smart personal choices and judgment. We have reattached a CDC flyer recommending the personal prevention measures that all RWU community members should employ. In the weeks ahead, you will see this flyer distributed and posted in various campus locations and displayed on campus monitors as a reminder to us all. 

Beyond practicing these individual behaviors that help prevent the spread of flu and other similar viruses, there are two important updates for us to share at this time:

  • With spring break beginning on March 7, we realize that some university members may have plans for international travel. At this time, Roger Williams University strongly advises against international travel due to the widening outbreak of COVID-19. Many countries could implement new entry and exit controls measures or quarantines with very little notice. If you do travel, please use caution in choosing your destination and monitor travel advisories from the U.S. Department of Health and CDC, especially avoiding travel to or through countries affected by current reported outbreaks.
  • Additionally, we request all University faculty, staff, and students take the time to update their phone number and contact information in ROGER CENTRAL. The University will continue to use the RAVE texting system as a primary means of communication for urgent and emergency communications including updates related to COVID-19. Please make sure your cell phone number is accurate or add it to our records if you have not provided it previously.

RWU will continue to keep you updated on COVID-19 developments. Our thoughts are with the students, faculty and staff who have family and other connections to the regions affected by this situation.

Thank you,

RWU Emergency Response Team


Health Advisory Update: 2/14/20

As of today, there are 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US.  Although there has been no confirmed cases in Rhode Island, we want to make sure that the RWU community is prepared.  Being informed is an important part of being prepared.  For this reason, the University intends to send out periodic emails for the near future with updates and key information.

Currently, the virus is not spreading widely in the community in the US.  According to the CDC, the immediate health risk for the general US public is low at this time.  Someone's risk for coronavirus is closely tied to their recent travel history, and the travel histories of their immediate contacts - specifically, travel to mainland China or close contact with a person confirmed to have coronavirus.  It is important to remember that someone's nationality alone is not a risk factor for coronavirus.  It is critical that we continue to treat people of Asian descent and all the members of our community with compassion and respect.

Influenza is widespread on campus.  To date, there are 138 cases of the flu.  Like coronavirus, the flu is spread through respiratory droplets from an uncovered cough or sneeze of an infected person.  Here is what you can do to prevent the spread of flu and other viruses: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and get sleep.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick to prevent  further spread of the virus.

For more information about the coronavirus visit:

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
RI Department of Health:  https://health.ri.gov/diseases/respiratory/?parm=163

Coronavirus Advisory:  2/4/2020 update

While the virus has been shown to spread from person to person, it is not easily spread.  You must be in close contact with someone to catch the virus (i.e. family members, people living in the same household).  Having casual contact with someone who is ill is not a risk factor and the virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the community in the United States.  Because of these factors, CDC believes the risk right now for people in the United States to be low.  
We remind the RWU Community to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of viruses.  This includes:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat a balanced diet.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (door knobs, hand railings, table tops, faucets) with a household disinfectant.
  • Get your flu shot.

For more information about the coronavirus visit:

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
RI Department of Health:  https://health.ri.gov/diseases/respiratory/?parm=163

Coronavirus Advisory:  1/23/2020 update

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has reported an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness that is caused by a new coronavirus. First identified in Wuhan, China, one confirmed case of coronavirus has recently been identified in the United States.  Coronavirus infections are spread the same way as other respiratory viruses, through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.  The Rhode Island Department of Health notes that at this time, the level of concern for people in the U.S. is very low. 

However, they are advising people with recent travel to or through Wuhan, China who develop acute onset of a fever and respiratory illness (e.g. runny nose, cough, shortness of breath), and/or have been in direct contact with a person known to have coronavirus to seek medical attention for further evaluation. 

Roger Williams University is working closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health in implementing safety precaution measures to ensure our campus and the surrounding community is safe.

Health Services will screen all students presenting with respiratory illness.  All appropriate students will be asked to wear a face mask and those of particular concern will be evaluated in an isolation room. 

These are precautionary measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

To help prevent coronavirus, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are infected.

If a student feels they may be at risk for coronavirus infection, they should call Health Services at (401)254-3156.


E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Illness (EVALI): 1/20/2020 update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing to provide updates on the number of lung illness (EVALI) cases that are connected to vaping. In its latest advisory, the agency points to new evidence that devices containing THC are part of the problem. 

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical in marijuana that produces a psychological “high.” The agency says that e-cigarette devices that contain THC were linked to 82 percent of EVALI cases as of January 14,2020. Overall, 33 percent of people who developed EVALI reported that they only used a THC-containing device before becoming ill. 

With these numbers in mind, the CDC has adjusted its advisory to focus more on warning consumers to avoid THC-containing e-cigarettes.

“The EVALI outbreak primarily affects young adults, is driven by use of THC-containing products from informal sources and is strongly linked to vitamin E acetate,” the agency stated. “CDC and FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers.”

“THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged frequent use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

We urge all RWU community members to avoid the use of e-cigarette and other vaping products due to the harmful effects. 

The Dangers of Vaping

E-Cigarette Use/Vaping Is Not Safe

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other harmful chemicals.  They are sometimes called e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, and vape pens.  Using an e-cigarette is also called "vaping" or "juuling".  E-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.    

Users inhale the aerosol into their lungs.  Bystanders can also breath in the aerosol when the user exhales it into the air.  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive and can harm brain development in children and young adults.  All Juul e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine.  A single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

Do not assume that prior use of e-cigarettes without symptoms or illness indicates that it is safe to continue use.  Inform your health care provider if you have been using e-cigarette products so you can be thoroughly assessed. 

We urge any individual  having trouble discontinuing use of nicotine containing products to contact their health care provider for assistance.  Health Services offers smoking cessation services to students eligible to be seen.  Tobacco cessation resources are available at RI Department of Health.

 


Mosquito-borne Illnesses:  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus and West Nile Virus:

Both EEE and West Nile Virus have been identified in mosquitos in Rhode Island and surrounding states.  It is normal to identify these viruses in our region at this time of year.  We expect this cycle to occur every year in the late summer through the first hard frost.  These viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Human cases resulting in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) are extremely rare.  The chances of anyone individual contracting encephalitis is remote, but not impossible.

The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.  We recommend that all community members take steps to minimize their risk of exposure to mosquitos.  The personal prevention measures outlined below are from the CDC and RI Department of Health:

  • Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito times (dusk to dawn) and avoid areas that have lots of mosquitos.
  • Use EPA approved insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Have intact screens on windows and doors or keep windows and doors closed to keep mosquitos out.
  • Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying any standing water in outdoor containers.

Contact Health Services at 401-254-3156 with any questions or concerns.


Influenza:  1/23/2020 update

Each year in the U.S., approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized from influenza complications, and over 36,000 people die.  Influenza is a respiratory illness with sudden onset of symptoms that include high fever, runny nose, body aches, headaches and cough.  

Flu season usually starts in October and lasts until March.  For most people, the illness is mild and resolves in 5-7 days.  Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic disease (asthma, diabetes, cancer) or weak immune systems are at high risk of developing complications from the flu.

On college campuses, the flu can be very serious.  Close living quarters, communal bathrooms, and high social activity make college campuses ideal settings for the spread of flu viruses.  Approximately 1 in 4 college students will get the flu.  So protect yourself and others by getting the flu vaccine. 

Flu shots are the most effective way to protect yourself against getting the flu.  New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses.  Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, last year's vaccine may not protect you from this year's viruses. 

Flu shots are available at Health Services.  Call 401-254-3156 to schedule an appointment.  Flu shots are also available at CVS and Walgreen Pharmacies, as well as Minute Clinics.  Its not too late to get your flu shot!

 

Flu Shot

Infection Control Recommendations to protect you from getting sick:                  

  • Get a flu shot
  • Wash hands frequently and use the alcohol based sanitizers located around campus
  • Avoid those you are ill
  • Clean common areas in your room with an anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach wipes are great)
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, not directly into your hands, and wash hands immediately
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups and water bottles

For more information on the vaccine as well as tips on influenza prevention and care, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.