The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is dominating headlines, but good health practices are important all year long. To help stop the spread of disease, students, faculty and staff can do several things to maintain health.
To limit risk, practice good infection control strategies, including:
- Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after use.
- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers also are effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Improve your immune system by getting enough rest (eight hours is ideal), exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
When sick, stay home to avoid spreading disease to others. If faculty or staff need to miss work because of illness, they are encouraged to notify their department chair or supervisor as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to cover classes or work.
"We encourage faculty and managers to be flexible with students and staff," said assistant vice president for student health and wellness and director of Thielen Student Heath Center Erin Baldwin.
The health center saw more than 12,500 students from November through January. That's up from 8,350 during the same time a year ago.
As of March 4, no patient at Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC) had symptoms that would call for testing for the coronavirus.
"We are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance for testing," Baldwin said. "There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Iowa State students, faculty or staff, and no known contact between infected persons and the university community."
The risk of the coronavirus reaching Iowa remains low, Baldwin said.
Health providers will take protective measures when treating a patient who may have COVID-19 or may have come in contact with someone who has. Currently, all coronavirus testing takes place at the State Hygienic Laboratory in Iowa City.
"Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel or exposure and your symptoms," Baldwin said.
Faculty and staff traveling on university business are prohibited from going to locations where the CDC has issued a level 3 warning against nonessential travel.