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Community Update Related to the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

| Category:
Faculty and Staff, All Campuses

The below message was shared with the entire Tufts community, including students, faculty, and staff.

To members of the Tufts community, 

We are writing for two important reasons today: to follow up on a previous message regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and to remind all members of our community of the importance of treating others with respect and civility, regardless of origin or nationality, and in spite of any fear or anxiety that the spread of illness may cause.


Update on the Coronavirus 

Many of you are likely aware that the first case of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in Wuhan, China has now been reported in Massachusetts. The patient is reported to be a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston who recently returned from Wuhan. We know that UMass-Boston is currently working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to ensure that all guidelines and protocols are followed. Here at Tufts, our emergency response team also continues to closely monitor news of the coronavirus. We want to be clear that no members of the Tufts community have been identified as having the coronavirus.

While the risk to members of our community remains low according to both state and city public health authorities, we know that this new case at UMass-Boston may cause concern. As a reminder, a person would only be at risk for contracting the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) if they had been in and/or travelled recently from Hubei province, and/or if they had been exposed to someone who was already infected. The CDC maintains up-to-date information about this coronavirus on its website, and MDPH has now also launched a webpage for Massachusetts residents.


Civility and Respect at Tufts

We know that a case of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Massachusetts may cause anxiety. Even while the risk to members of our own community remains low, concerns around the world remain understandably high. We want to remind everyone in the Tufts community that fear and anxiety do not justify incivility or disrespect, and they do not sanction acts of bias, discrimination, or xenophobia towards members of our east Asian communities, or any other population. They also do not justify political discourse or expression that is disrespectful or antagonistic. Compassion, respect, and care for all people, regardless of origin or nationality, is simply not up for debate on our campuses. 

At Tufts, we believe everyone deserves to feel welcome, despite circumstances local, national, or international. We also believe that no one is at fault for being taken ill. As the situation surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, we ask each of you to recommit yourselves to embodying our University’s values, and to do so while you help safeguard the health and wellness of the entire Tufts community.


Reminders for Our Community

We continue to advise members of the Tufts community to take the following precautions to help prevent the spread of illness, including the flu and common cold:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. 
  • Cover your cough. Keep germs from spreading by coughing into your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Avoid sharing drinks, food, and/or cigarettes or vaping products.
  • If you share a room or apartment with someone who is sick, try to stay at least 6 feet away to prevent exposure through coughing.

We also want to remind community members to seek medical care if they have recently been in Hubei province or been exposed to someone with a confirmed infection and experience flu-like symptoms:

  • Arts & Sciences (including SMFA), Engineering, and Fletcher students may walk into Health Service whenever their office is open. SMFA students may also make an appointment online with Atrius Health in the Fenway.
  • Students on the Boston and Grafton health sciences campuses should reach out to their primary care provider and may also seek care through a local emergency room.
  • Faculty and staff should reach out to their primary care provider and may also seek care through a local emergency room.
  • If you require emergency medical assistance, please contact the Tufts University Police immediately at x66911 from any campus phone, or from an off-campus or cellular phone:
    • Medford/Somerville: 617-627-6911
    • Boston: 617-636-6911
    • Grafton: 508-839-5303

We will continue to monitor the situation and update the community. Tufts’ Office of Emergency Management has developed a central webpage related to the coronavirus where community members may find the most up-to-date guidance and information at any time. 

We also continue to advise all members of the Tufts community to avoid travel to Hubei province and other parts of China. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. The US Department of State recommends avoiding all travel to China. The University is currently monitoring all international travel by Tufts affiliates, and we have provided all our travelers with advice to minimize the possibility of exposure and access resources available while abroad. If you are traveling and need assistance, including medical care, please reach out to International SOS at 215-942-8226 (Tufts’ membership number is 11BCPS000093).


Richard Perito

Assistant Director, Office of Emergency Management

Dr. Margaret Higham

Medical Director, Health Service

Dr. Rob Mack

Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Medford and SMFA campuses

Dr. Joyce Sackey

Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Boston and Grafton health sciences campuses