Dear Members of the Northern New Mexico College Community,
We are writing to share information about an emerging outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of a well-known virus, coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China.
As of March 5, 2020, 129 known cases have been detected throughout the United (including 49 cases from Americans evacuated from Asia). There have been no cases detected in New Mexico, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is low.
What is novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV/Covid-19)?
2019-nCoV (Covid-19) is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:
It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.
What is the risk?
The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.
Symptoms and transmission:
Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and may include:
- Difficulty breathing.
Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people. One particular feature of this virus is that a person may be infectious, but not symptomatic, for up to 14 days.
There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:
If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others. Please also coordinate with your supervisor and consider using sick leave to avoid contact with co-workers.
- Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning product.
General Respiratory Illness Information
In addition, flu activity continues to be high in New Mexico. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take the same everyday actions as above to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
These include getting a flu shot, avoiding those with the flu, washing your hands, covering coughs/sneezes in your elbow/sleeve and, if ill, staying home until you are fever-free for 24 hours. If you do become ill, seek medical attention within the first 48 hours of symptoms.
Students, Faculty and Staff who have not received the flu vaccine yet should check your local pharmacy or doctor’s office.
Northern New Mexico College will continue to monitor the situation using guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) and New Mexico Department of Health.
Northern is closely following developments in the spread of the virus and we are preparing for a range of possible scenarios should it reach our region or campus. If Covid-19 has affected citizens in Northern New Mexico, we may shift to an Emergency Response Plan, which could include a remote work and study plan.