Answers to Campus Medical Questions

From Arnold Health Service

Is air travel safe if I am traveling to my home community (U.S. or international)?

The CDC recommends you avoid all nonessential international travel. If you must travel, follow the recommendations in the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice, in addition to any travel health recommendations provided on the webpage for your destination. COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing. Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. The CDC rarely offers restrictions for domestic travel, but has published Considerations for Travelers—Coronavirus in the US.

If I do travel, what precautions should I take?

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Avoid traveling if you are sick.

If I have traveled in the last 14 days, what precautions should I take?

Monitor your health and practice social distancing for 14 days after you return from international travel in Global 3 or 4 regions, or to states with a CDC Domestic Travel Advisory. Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. Stay up to date and read more at: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/coronavirus-global , www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html and at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Do I need gloves or a mask to go to the grocery store or to travel?

The CDC now recommends that you cover your nose and mouth with a cloth mask when around others, such as when going to the grocery store or pharmacy. COVID-19 can be spread to others even when you are asymptomatic. The cloth mask is to protect others in case you are infected. Because there is a shortage of surgical and N95 masks, only cloth masks are recommended. Currently, the CDC does not recommend the use of gloves and advocates frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer use instead. Information on the use of masks and how to make a cloth mask is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Does the virus pass through things like mail, grocery store bags, or food?

Any frequently touched item should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and/or disinfectant. If possible, throw outer packaging away and wash hands thoroughly. The link below is a list of products that have been approved to be used against the COVID-19 virus. www.americanchemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf

Recent studies have found that COVID-19 virus can survive from several hours to days on various materials. See the link below for guidelines on how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on specific materials: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200320192755.htm

If I am asymptomatic, have not traveled, and have not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, am I a risk to my family when I go home?

The virus can be spread when individuals are asymptomatic so the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends that everyone follow normal personal protective preventive methods. See the IDPH COVID-19 Household Checklist link below for recommendations: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus/faq

What are the best daily precautions to avoid getting sick?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you have not already done so, discuss influenza vaccination with your health care provider to help protect you against seasonal influenza.

See more information at:  http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus/faq

Am I safe to be around people if we practice social distancing?

The COVID-19 virus can be spread by two methods. The first is when you are exposed to infectious droplets by being near someone who is coughing or sneezing. These droplets cannot travel more than 6 feet which is why social distancing is so important. The second method is when infectious droplets are on surfaces and someone then touches these surfaces and touches their face. This unfortunately cannot be avoided from social distancing alone and would require thoroughly cleaning all surfaces. Best practice would be to avoid contact with others especially in an enclosed environment/building including a lab setting. See: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-basics

How would I know if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Although the virus can be spread when individuals are asymptomatic, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear 2 to 14 days after contact with the virus. Symptoms include:

  • Fever    
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you develop any of these symptoms, and are on campus, contact Arnold Health Service (AHS) at 556-3107. AHS is available to all students for consultation. If you are off campus, please contact your primary care provider or local health department. For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html