February 21, 2020
To: NMU Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Dr. Fritz Erickson, NMU President
Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick, Medical Director, NMU Health Center
Re: Staying Healthy During and After Spring Break Travel
Northern’s spring break, which starts next week (Feb. 29-March 8), has many in our NMU community preparing for travel. It is with this in mind that we wanted to update you on matters related to the general spread of influenza, as well as the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The fact is that you are much more likely to come in contact with the influenza virus than with the coronavirus. The risk of a coronavirus epidemic in the United States is very low. There have been no confirmed cases in Michigan and no suspected cases in the Upper Peninsula or at NMU. However, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported a much higher than average ‘flu rate in both the state and the nation.
If you are traveling this spring break – whether within the United States, internationally, or just across the U.P. – there are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of any virus, including influenza. These include:
· Avoid close physical contact with sick people.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
· Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol.
o It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
· And, if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, do not go to class, work or university and community events. Contact your physician or the NMU Health Center (906-227-2355) to develop your best course of action.
Regarding the coronavirus virus outbreak, Northern has taken the precautionary measure to suspend university-sponsored travel to China for the remainder of the semester and until further notice. This suspension follows the recommendations of the U.S. State Department, which advises against all non-essential travel to that country. Unfortunately, this does impact one faculty-led study abroad opportunity that was scheduled for China in May and a couple of student internships. Fortunately, NMU does not have any students or faculty studying or researching in China this semester.
Yesterday (Feb. 20), the U.S. State Department raised its alert from Level 1 to 2 for Hong Kong due to increased novel coronavirus cases there. Northern strongly encourages all those within the university community who are traveling abroad this spring break or in the upcoming months to diligently monitor the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in order to make the best health decisions for yourself; your family, friends and colleagues; and our community. You can do this at Travel.state.gov and CDC.gov. Also please remember that students, faculty and staff who are traveling internationally should complete NMU’s international travel registration. Doing so enables the university to provide you any information it receives about changing situations in the area in which you are traveling.
If delaying international travel now or in upcoming months causes any issues for students, the NMU International Programs Office is available for assistance. Please contact IPO at 203 Cohodas Hall or by calling 906-227-2510, or emailing Diana Vreeland, IPO director, at email@example.com. Faculty impacted by the travel suspension and in need of assistance should work with Academic Affairs, 610 Cohodas Hall, 906-227-2920.
We wish you a relaxing and healthy spring break. To any in our university community who are currently suffering with the ‘flu, get a lot of sleep, drink plenty of water and get well soon.