Dear CU Boulder students, faculty and staff,
The presence of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in our local community has created an unprecedented need for greater understanding of this global pandemic and infectious diseases in general. Members of the campus community are asking: What do I need to know if I have been exposed to COVID-19?
To clear up misperceptions and to bring greater clarity to the issue, we offer the guidance below to help address some of your concerns. We know uncertainty abounds, and we strongly encourage you to become as fully informed as possible to protect yourself, your friends, your colleagues and your loved ones. Together, as a university community, we can rise to these challenges in the days and weeks ahead with fact-based decisions.
Emerging Cases on Campus
We are aware of at least two cases (an employee and a student who did not live on campus) and we expect that there are more we don't know about. Because of the increasing number of positive cases in the state and county, we are focused on mitigating the spread of the illness versus reporting the number of cases. Please refer to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as the primary source for tests and tracking. Boulder County is also releasing information on local cases on its COVID-19 website. Public health officials will contact those who were known to have come into close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and will provide guidance on next steps.
When to Consult With Your Doctor
In general, healthy people are less at risk of contracting COVID-19. However, we strongly recommend that you consult with a health care provider if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer and have recently come into contact with someone who is undergoing testing or has tested positive for this infectious disease.
If you suspect you have been near someone who is being tested or has tested positive for COVID-19, it is important to follow guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Depending on your unique situation, public health officials may ask you to stay home for up to 14 days.
If you have already tested positive, follow the state health department’s recommendations regarding timelines for staying home. Through social distancing, you will help curb COVID-19 on our campus and in the broader Boulder community.
When to Get Tested for COVID-19
If you have been near individuals being tested for COVID-19:
In Colorado, you do not need to be tested for COVID-19 unless you develop lower-respiratory infection, a fever of 100.5 or higher, cough and shortness of breath. Consult with your physician if someone you were recently near receives a positive diagnosis. Public health officials will contact those who were known to have come into close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and will provide guidance on next steps. Advice might include staying home for up to 14 days and consulting with your medical provider if you feel you are coming down with symptoms.
If you were around individuals who later tested positive:
The need for testing depends on the amount of time you were near an individual who has tested positive and whether the individual was masked. Your health care provider may recommend that you stay home for up to 14 days, though testing is not mandatory. Call your medical provider directly if you would like to be tested before heading to a clinic or hospital. In Colorado, you only need to be tested if you develop a lower-respiratory infection, a fever of 100.5 or higher, cough or shortness of breath.
If you shared food or drinks with someone who later tested positive:
COVID-19 can live on hard surfaces such as tables, chairs and countertops, and it is advisable to wipe down hard surfaces before eating and drinking and to avoid sharing plates, glasses and cutlery to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information about self-quarantine versus self-isolation, visit www.colorado.edu/healthcenter/coronavirus.
Avoid Jumping to Conclusions
We caution against jumping to conclusions. Do not assume that a person being tested for COVID-19 has already received a positive diagnosis. Risk factors may vary based on relevant circumstances. For example, being in a large, well-ventilated classroom or walking by someone on the street poses a lower risk than sitting directly next to an individual or living with someone who has actually tested positive. Ultimately, public health officials are best positioned to evaluate if an individual is at risk based on the circumstances of the potential contact.
What to Do to Stay Healthy
Our advice to our campus community remains the same:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant products.
- Do not share cups, utensils, lip balm, etc.
- Practice social distancing when possible.
- Watch for cough, shortness of breath and fever. If you feel ill, call your health care provider before going in for an appointment.
- And to keep others healthy, stay home when you’re sick
Where to Find More Information and Support
Campus support resources, CU Boulder has many support and advocacy resources available for our campus community.
Boulder County Public Health, the lead agency on presumptive and positive cases of COVID-19 in Boulder County.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado’s lead public health agency, which tracks the occurrence of infectious diseases across the state.
CU Boulder coronavirus webpage, where you can find the campus’s latest updates.
Thank you and be well,
Gloria Brisson, Senior Director of Medical Clinical Services, Wardenburg Health Center
Ann Mattson, Medical Director, Wardenburg Health Center
Dan Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor for Integrity, Safety and Compliance