Update on coronavirus measures, week of February 17

Dear Williams faculty, students and staff,

Steve Klass and I are writing with this week’s update about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

First, the community members who visited China during January 2020 have all now passed the 14-day incubation period. We’re pleased to report that they remain symptom-free. While we’ll continue monitoring the situation, at present we’re not aware of anyone else at Williams with risk factors.

Global outbreaks can ebb and then surge again. As an ongoing precaution, we strongly encourage faculty, staff and students to register via Google form any travel to China planned through August 2020. This will enable the college to support you if the risk increases or circumstances change. Submitted information will be treated as “need to know” according to Williams’ data classification rules.

While the U.S. Department of State has only issued a travel advisory for the People’s Republic of China, clusters of cases have been identified in other parts of the world. You’re welcome to use the same form to register travel to any location where data suggest a possibility of exposure.

Looking ahead, we advise anyone planning spring break or summer travel to do a simple risk assessment: consider how the situation might affect your plans, and whether you’d be able to adapt if circumstances changed (e.g., if new travel restrictions were announced). If you’re uncomfortable with or unprepared for such risks, you may want to change your plans until the outbreak subsides. The better prepared you are, the better able the college will be to support you if you need help.

As we mentioned last week, if you plan to travel on college business or for Williams academic programs, please also take advantage of Williams’ membership in International SOS, which provides worldwide travel assistance, including pre-trip review and advice.

Finally, while the news coverage of coronavirus has declined, good sanitation can help avoid the spread of flu and many other illnesses: wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Clean touch surfaces often. Avoid sharing personal items. And cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze.

We wish you all a good week, and will plan to send an update again next week at this time.

Marlene Sandstrom and Steve Klass