March 16, 2020, Update
To the Dartmouth community,
This morning, our COVID-19 task force co-chairs informed the campus that three members of the Dartmouth community were being tested for COVID-19. This evening, I am writing to confirm that one of these students, a graduate student residing in off-campus housing, has been confirmed to be presumptive positive, indicating that the disease has now been found in the Dartmouth community. We have been in touch with this person and their roommate to make sure they are comfortable and that they have everything they need while the person who tested positive recovers.
As stated earlier, the students undergoing testing are following protocol by staying in their homes and will be working with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to determine if any other close contacts also need to quarantine.
The transmission path of this latest case is following the expected trajectory of the disease, with more members of our community expected to become infected over time. There remain, however, steps we can and should take to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Whether you are young or old, and regardless of how well you feel, there are actions we must take that put the community first. Please make the modest personal sacrifice of remaining at home whenever possible and avoiding parties and other social gatherings. We can help to slow the spread of this virus and protect our friends, families, and neighbors if we limit our physical interaction and continue to practice good hygiene.
Everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, include washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and staying 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.
We are monitoring unfolding events and are in close contact with state and federal health authorities. We will keep you informed regarding changing policies and information. Please check your email frequently over the next few days. I know that news reports can be discouraging, but please remember that we have the ability to slow the transmission of this virus by putting the safety of all members of our community first.
Joseph Helble, provost