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President Leahy on the Emerging COVID-19 Virus and the University’s Response

To the Members of the University Community:

I am writing to follow up on Vice President Nagy’s February 7, 2020 communication regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the University’s preparedness in this area.

As you know, the virus that causes COVID-19 has continued to spread beyond the initial outbreak in China and is now in many countries, including the United States, albeit a relatively small number of cases. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization suggests that the virus may affect more people and it is prudent for all countries and organizations to prepare accordingly.

Please be assured that the University is doing so. University officials are monitoring the situation carefully and working with the appropriate local and state public health officials to stay abreast of this rapidly evolving situation. In addition, the University has activated the Crisis Management Team to lead our coordinated efforts on campus.

During the course of the past week, we have been in touch with all of our students studying abroad and our study abroad partners to discuss the situation and to ensure appropriate planning and precautions are in place. We currently have students studying in Australia, Germany, and England. There are no students studying in Italy at this time. We will continue to assess the situation as it may relate to study abroad and faculty-led programs for spring break, summer, and fall semester travel and make decisions regarding these programs in consultation with our partner institutions and appropriate University personnel.

All of us should be reminded that there are many preventive measures for us to follow to prevent the spread of the flu, the coronavirus, and other common viruses. Among them are:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Place used tissues into a wastebasket and then wash your hands.

The recent global events can produce a wide and fluctuating range of emotional responses, which may vary from person to person. As always, Counseling and Psychological Services staff are available to consult with members of the campus community regarding any distress, and they can be contacted at 732.571.7517 or

Please stay tuned for regular updates as this situation unfolds.

Patrick F. Leahy