USMMA Announcement on COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (March 2, 2020) – We are closely monitoring the worldwide status of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. The virus originated in China, but has recently been the source of significant outbreaks in Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan. As of this date, no members of the Academy community (faculty, staff or midshipmen) have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 situation is rapidly-changing; our local healthcare professionals are monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and updating the Academy Community regularly. While there has now been one case of the coronavirus documented in New York State, we realize our situation is made more complex with midshipmen, faculty, and staff travel, along with Sea Year movements and other transitions.
Your safety, health, and peace of mind are our primary concern during this challenging time, and we want you to be aware of the precautions we are taking, and the processes we are considering or developing to help deal with any potential outbreak.
As mentioned above, this is a rapidly changing and evolving disease, but the CDC recommends the best defense is a good offense, and has issued guidance on prevention that starts with avoiding exposure to the disease. They additionally recommend, “everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, which include the following:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick (keep supervisors informed of your status, use tele-work agreements as necessary, and seek medical assistance if you are sick)
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. As an alternative, sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.” At USMMA, an additional alternative comes from the many hand sanitation stations around campus, when the ability to wash with soap & water is not immediately practical.
Effective hand-washing is an essential first step for all of us, and we strongly advocate compliance with the guidance above to reduce the possibility of becoming infected with the disease. Our outreach efforts to date have focused on these actions. In addition, we recommend avoiding large crowds.
We recently convened our Academy Response Team to consider the potential impact of a local outbreak, and to monitor actions to date. We discussed, and are exploring, such items as alternate teaching options and continuity plans in the event that our operations are disrupted by the disease; the need for increased communication concerning COVID-19 at the Academy; and the impact of upcoming Sea Year transitions, Spring Break and travel requirements. We also want you to know that our response team will meet regularly to consider changes in the current environment - including answers to frequently asked questions - and will communicate regularly through updates and postings.
To that end, we have received questions recently concerning face masks and whether the Academy intends to issue them. At this point, we intend to follow the CDC guidance on face mask use. The “CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).” This includes any of the respirator versions which generally require a special fitting, training, and replacement after 24 hours of use.
Thank you for your continued support as we work to maintain a high level of safety, health and transparency in communications at USMMA. We will remain in touch.