UWM Health Update Regarding Coronavirus – Feb. 21, 2020

Dear UWM students, faculty, and staff,

UWM’s Infectious Disease Preparedness Team has continued to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. While the international situation is serious, the local circumstances have not changed. To date, there have been no confirmed cases in the city of Milwaukee, or in Waukesha or Washington counties. Our campus community is still at low risk.

The concern over the COVID-19 outbreak comes at a time of year when a much more common disease, influenza, is prevalent. Only a very small number of cases of coronavirus disease have developed in the United States. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 26 million people in the U.S. already have gotten the flu this season.

This week the City of Milwaukee Health Department reminded our community that it was not too late to get a flu vaccine this season. In fact, the university is partnering with the Milwaukee Health Department in hosting a flu shot clinic at the UWM Student Union on Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be no cost for the vaccine while supply lasts.

In addition to getting vaccinated, individuals also can help prevent the spread of flu by following these guidelines. Since both flu and coronavirus are caused by a virus, the same prevention tips apply to each. These include:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After use, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.

While following the prevention tips is the best strategy to stay healthy, it’s still possible to get the flu. The signs and symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, sore throat and body aches. If you experience these, stay home from class and work, and avoid other people. Stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Missing classes, work and other responsibilities may be challenging, but taking time to rest will benefit you and protect others.

Another event next week is aimed at raising public awareness of COVID-19 in the general community. The Zilber School of Public Health presents a panel discussion, “Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – What We Know and What We Need to Consider,” on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

The panel includes me, UWM faculty, city and state public health professionals, and the enterprise epidemiologist from Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

We will continue to regularly communicate with the UWM community with updates related to this emerging infectious disease. Our website is a primary source of information and is updated regularly.

Students who have general questions about influenza or the coronavirus, or who are sick and need medical advice, can call the Norris Health Center at 414-229-4716 to speak to a nurse. Faculty and staff, please consult with your health care professional.

Sincerely,

Julie Bonner, MD
Campus Health Officer
Executive Director Norris Health Center,
University Counseling and Health Promotion