Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
January 22, 2020

Coronavirus Guidance

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community,

As you may be aware, reports of a novel (new) virus called CoronaVirus 2019-nCoV have made the news in recent days. University Health Services (UHS) is monitoring the emerging facts about the disease and working very closely with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to understand and enact best practices for screening and treating any student who may report with symptoms. There has been no person diagnosed with the coronavirus in the Pittsburgh area, including at Carnegie Mellon, at this time.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta reports that most human coronaviruses are relatively mild, although some coronaviruses cause more severe symptoms. The concern with this virus is that it is new, and therefore health officials do not have experience with its long-term effects. For the latest information from the CDC please see their website.

Out of an abundance of caution, any student with fever and cough who has been to Wuhan, China, within the last 14 days should report to the UHS immediately. If you are a faculty or staff member, you should contact your primary care provider for guidance.

Symptoms for coronaviruses may include:

  • Runny nose;
  • Headache;
  • Cough;
  • Sore throat;
  • Fever; and
  • A general feeling of being unwell.

Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, which in some rare instances can lead to death. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, weakened immune systems, infants and older adults. These viruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Because of the time of year, we also are experiencing increased cases of seasonal flu on our campus. It is therefore imperative that every community member take the following precautions.

  • Wash your hands often. This is the best defense against the spread of all viruses.
  • Stay home when you are ill. A day or two of rest will assure quicker recovery and decrease the spread of infectious illness on campus.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or the crook of your arm, and then promptly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
  • Get plenty of rest/sleep.
  • Get the seasonal flu vaccine. Though not protective against coronavirus, the seasonal vaccine may prevent against flu, which is circulating on campus and is known to cause possible severe respiratory illness.

Please direct any questions to UHS at or call 412-268-2157 and press the option for the triage nurse. UHS also has an after-hours nurse call line at 1-844-881-7176, so help is available 24 hours a day.

Thank you for doing your part in supporting a safe and healthy campus this winter.

Best regards,

Beth Kotarski, DNP, CRNP-BC
Executive Director
University Health Services