March 8, 2020, Update
To the Dartmouth community,
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) has announced that two additional people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. One of those patients is an Upper Valley resident who had contact with a person who was later confirmed to have COVID-19 and is now in quarantine. That interaction occurred at Hope Bible Fellowship in West Lebanon on March 1. Vermont has also announced its first presumptive case that appears unrelated to the New Hampshire cases. Health officials are investigating the travel history and possible exposure history of the patients and are conducting contact tracing for anyone who has been in close contact with them.
At this time, NHDHHS is not recommending cancellation or postponement of mass events and gatherings and Dartmouth is not prohibiting public events or activities; however, event organizers should make appropriate decisions relative to their event in determining whether to cancel or proceed and attendees should contact event organizers for the status of individual events. We recommend that those who are holding events include timely reminders about maintaining good hygiene such as washing hands, avoiding handshakes, and reminding individuals with possible symptoms that they should remain at home.
In order to safeguard the health and well-being of everyone, Dartmouth is recommending that all members of our community begin practicing social distancing in order to minimize interactions with others and limit possible exposure to COVID-19. Social distancing means remaining away from settings where people are meeting, avoiding non-essential mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible. For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.
Undergraduate final exams will proceed this week, and we are working with faculty to provide alternative testing locations to better facilitate social distancing options. Individual faculty members will be in touch with specific updates for those in large classes. Geisel graduate school classes are being evaluated and faculty will be in contact regarding any changes to classroom locations. Dining services will continue as normal with current heightened cleaning and serving protocols
We recognize that these actions may create significant challenges for faculty, staff, and students, and we ask for your understanding as we respond to events as they unfold.
The CDC recommends everyday actions to help prevent the spread of any type of respiratory virus, including 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.
If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please stay home. Dartmouth students should contact Dick's House, at 603-646-9400 and faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider. Before going to a health care appointment, please call ahead and tell them about any recent travel and your symptoms. Also, avoid contact with others and do not travel.
We will continue to share updates as this situation evolves. Thank you for your cooperation in helping us to maintain everyone's health and safety.
Dr. Lisa Adams
Co-Chairs, Dartmouth COVID-19 Task Force