As you are aware, the novel coronavirus has been and continues to be a public health concern, both in China and, as cases become known, worldwide. In an effort to contain the virus, the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control have recently announced travel advisories and precautions for those traveling to and from China. As a result, Washington University has created our own set of guidelines, resources, and precautions, which can be found here.
At this time, I want to reassure our community that we have no cases of COVID-19 in or around the St Louis area. Further, the CDC indicates that the general public are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, and the immediate health risk is considered low at this time.
We currently have faculty and staff on both Danforth and Medical campuses monitoring the situation and making recommendations. Olin Business School, as one example, has adjusted its global MBA program to accommodate the travel restrictions currently in place. We have also hosted and will continue to host various informational sessions and opportunities for dialogue in partnership with our schools, faculty groups, and campus organizations.
Friends and colleagues, while we are doing our best to keep the community informed of the situation, I am writing today to share a message of gratitude and a reminder of the strength of our community during times of uncertainty.
First, I want to share how grateful I am for those who have devoted countless hours to monitoring concerns and sharing information with our community. We owe a debt of gratitude to colleagues at the Habif Health and Wellness Center, the Center for Infectious Diseases, Emergency Management, Public Affairs, Human Resources, and all of our faculty and staff who have stood on the front lines helping students and faculty understand the precautionary steps and travel advisories.
Second and most importantly, I want to acknowledge that the novel coronavirus outbreak has created feelings of angst and uncertainty for some, in addition to inconvenience for many others. As a diverse and vibrant community comprising individuals from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, we must remember that the situation will affect all of us in different ways. In addition, we must remember that the impact it has on us may depend on our own identities and contexts. During this time, I urge each member of our community to see one another’s humanity and to extend compassion and empathy to those most impacted. Our institutional strength lies in our diversity and the essential qualities of affirmation, equity, and inclusion — and it is especially important during times like these that we embody and model these values.
As we navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead, please know that my thoughts will continue to be with those impacted. We will also continue to provide updates as circumstances evolve. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support as well as utilize the resources we have in place. I’m extremely grateful for each and every member of our community and the contributions you make to advance our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good. May we continue to embody that mission during this time and through our daily interactions and encounters, which serve to enrich both our human experience and our tradition of distinction.