Coronavirus Updates

This website provides the latest COVID-19 health information and related campus announcements. For Spring Quarter resources and continuity information, including guidance and updates on remote learning and working, housing, financial aid, and more, please visit spring2020.uchicago.edu.

As we continue to closely monitor novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and respond to the new and evolving situation, our goal is to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. We remain committed to our distinctive environment for education, research, and impact, and being responsible participants in the collective global public health challenge. If you have additional questions, please call us at 1-773-795-5374 or email us at coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu.

Campus Operations Status

  • The University is suspending all nonessential international and domestic University travel, effective immediately until further notice. More information.
  • The start of Spring Quarter was delayed by one week, from Monday, March 30 to Monday, April 6 for most units on campus. This delayed start means Spring Quarter will have nine weeks of instruction.
    • For questions on Spring Quarter planning, visit spring2020.uchicago.edu or contact the University of Chicago’s Spring Quarter Information Line at 1-877-744-4800 (1-773-795-5374).
  • The University has ceased dine-in service for all on-campus dining halls and cafes for Spring Quarter.
    • Baker Dining Commons and the Maroon Market will offer take-out options.
  • Principal investigators who lead research teams and directors of research facilities should ramp down to only essential individuals and operations until further notice. Vital research related to COVID-19 will continue. More information.
  • The Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and Henry Crown Field House are closed until further notice.
  • The Regenstein Library, Crerar, Eckhart, Mansueto, SSA, the D’Angelo Law Library, and the All Night study are closed. Available online library services and resources.
  • Campus shuttles are running normally, with flexibility to change operations if necessary to align with public health guidance.
  • All academic and administrative campus buildings can now be opened only by a small list of essential personnel with secure key card access.

Recent Announcements

Archived Announcements

What We Know About Coronavirus

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Emily Landon. I’m an adult infectious diseases doctor at the University of Chicago Medicine. And I’m the hospital epidemiologist. I’m leading our medical response to COVID-19. And today, I’m going to answer some of your questions and talk to you more about what this means for you. The coronavirus that we’re facing in this global pandemic is not that bad for people who are otherwise healthy and especially for young people. Almost all of young people and healthy people will be just fine, even after they get sick. So it can be a little bit confusing as to why we’re shutting everything down and sending everyone home for e-learning and why hospitals are taking such drastic measures.

The important thing to know is that, while it may be fine for most people, there are a small number of people– about 15% of individuals who get sick– who will need additional medical care. Of them, another small percentage of that number will need critical resources, like a ventilator and other intensive care services in hospitals. And while it seems like a small number, when the entire population is susceptible to this disease and any number of us could get sick, it’s important to remember that our hospitals aren’t really set up to take care of 10% or 15% of the entire population at one time.

That’s why we need to slow the spread of this disease. And the important thing is for even the healthy, young people, who are going to be feeling relatively good, just maybe having a cough and a fever, who might stay home for a couple of days and then go out and hang out with their friends or go to work. They’re going to be able to pass it on during that time. And they’re even able to pass it on before they get all the way feeling sick.

And that means we have to act proactively. You have to stay home now. And we have to avoid contact with lots of other people, so that if you become sick later, then fewer people will have been exposed and fewer people will get sick. Those of you who study any math will know that if every one person who’s sick infects three more people and that continues on that way, it won’t take very long for us to be able to max out our capacity in hospitals.

You need to do your part to protect everyone else. It’s important to keep that in perspective. This isn’t the kind of pandemic that’s going to kill us all. And we don’t need to freak out about it, but we do need to take very serious measures to change the way we behave and the way we live. We don’t have a vaccine. And we don’t have antivirals. And so we’re not going to be able to just use those tools to help protect the most vulnerable among us.

Instead, the only tool we have is you staying away from other people. I know it seems kind of remote to imagine that your behavior, going out on campus, or hanging out with your friends is going to affect a nursing home on the other side of the city, but we’re all connected. And it’s important– really important– that you take this idea and this advice to heart and do everything you can.

Obviously, I’m not saying to socially isolate yourself so that you completely get depressed. In fact, you should still talk to your friends– just do it electronically when you can. See some people once in a while in very small groups. Go out and take a. Walk there’s no better place for germs than the sunlight and the open air. Just don’t hang out with a bunch of people in a close, closed space.

Yeah, we all have to accept that we’re going to have some contacts with other people in our lives, right? I have a son at home. And we have some close friends that live next door to us in our building. And we’re kind of all a little team. If one of us gets sick, we’ve already accepted that most of us are going to get sick. But as long as we keep the infections inside that closed group, then we’re going to be doing our part to help prevent the spread to other people.

So if you get someone who’s sick in your building or in your room, you’re going to need to be careful. First off, somebody else sick in a building that you live in that isn’t close to you and not living in your building isn’t really that big of a risk for you, especially if you’re following the instructions about washing your hands, wiping things down, cleaning things off, and using hand sanitizer. Don’t touch those elevator buttons with your fingers. Use your elbow. Don’t be shaking hands with people. Those are the things that you can do to help reduce your risk from those sort of casual contacts in your general vicinity.

Now, people who live close to you, if you all live in the same place, it’s very possible that if you get sick, the other ones will as well. If you’re somehow vulnerable because of your health status, then you might want to rethink your living situation, talk to the people that you can reach about this situation, talk to your doctor, talk to your parents, talk to your counselors and your residence advisors. That’s how you’re going to get the situation sorted out. If somebody does get sick, the best thing to do is to follow the guidelines on the CDC’s website about what to do if someone’s sick in your house.

Just because one person is sick doesn’t mean for sure that everyone else has to get sick. And there are measures you can take to help protect yourself and to protect the other people living in that area. Go to cdc.gov and look for how to take care of someone who’s sick in my house.

Everybody’s asking how long we’re going to have to do this for. And I wish I had a good answer for you. Unfortunately, the answer is, the longer it takes, the better. And the less dramatic everything is in the hospitals and on the news, the better it is for all of us. The best outcome here is that we all stay home for a long time– much longer than we thought we were going to have to– and nothing big and important happens.

If you find that, when this is all over, that you feel like, why did I have to stay inside? Why did we have to do this thing where we did e-learning? We should have just stayed at school, everything worked. That’s how you’ll know that it was the right thing to do. If we wait until things are already out of control before we start taking measures, like closing down bars, schools, going to e-learning, it’s already too late. We’ve already overwhelmed our hospitals. And that’s not going to help anyone.

At this point, we still have the opportunity to slow the spread. We’re not containing anything. A lot of people are still going to get sick, but if we spread it out over longer and we take these social distancing measures, it’ll be really disruptive, really difficult, and completely different than anything you’ve ever done in your life before, but it will really help. Fewer people will die. Fewer people will have bad outcomes. And we’ll all be better off because of it.

A video message from Assoc. Prof. Emily Landon, a specialist in infectious disease at UChicago Medicine, that answers important questions about the disease and the diligence needed, particularly among those who are young and healthy, to reduce its spread.

Why We Should Stay Home

Assoc. Prof. Emily Landon speaks at Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 news conference on March 20. She explains why the statewide order to stay at home is crucial to protecting everyone.

Public Health Information on Novel Coronavirus

How to Protect Yourself

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Video Transcript

Hi. I’m Dr. Emily Landon. I’m one of the adult infectious disease doctors here at the University of Chicago Medicine. And I’m the hospital epidemiologist. Together with Rachel Marrs, we lead the Infection Control Program.

I wanted to take a minute today to talk to you about our response to the coronavirus. I know it’s concerning to see thousands of cases of a brand new respiratory virus in China and even a handful of cases in the United States. But there are important steps you can take now in order to protect yourself from both this respiratory virus and also the important ones that are already circulating widely in our community, like influenza.

Wash your hands as often as you can, before you eat, after contact with other people. And avoid touching your face. It seems like you don’t touch your face very often. But studies show we all do it a lot more than we think we do.

If you have any respiratory symptoms, wear a mask. That can help contain your secretions so that they don’t get onto surfaces or onto other people around you. If you find someone else who has respiratory illness, ask them to wear a mask. We have them located at every single door to the Medical Center. And you can ask anyone who works here for a mask, and we’ll give you one.

Lastly, make sure you stay well. And stay away from other people who are sick. Step back if someone’s coughing on the train. Take a step away from someone in line at the grocery store who doesn’t seem to be well. Even a few feet can make a big difference in terms of reducing your risk of transmission.

And while we haven’t seen very many cases of this coronavirus and we don’t know exactly what will happen, we do know that these basic techniques can help protect you from getting sick, no matter what. And we know that they’ll help protect you from influenza, which has already killed more Americans than have even visited Wuhan.

Our infection control team is working hard to partner with our colleagues at the Chicago Department of Public Health and the CDC. We’re making sure we stay up to date and do everything we can to protect you in the Medical Center. We’re also partnering with our community and with the University to make sure our information and resources reach as far and wide as we can have them. We are aiming to make the University of Chicago Medicine the safest place for you to be, no matter what virus is going around in our community.

  • CDC recommends everyday preventative actions such as:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home as much as possible.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; alternatively use the inside of your elbow.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

Travel Advisories

  • The U.S. State Department has increased the global health advisory travel warning to Level 4, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice (Level 3), which recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel due to widespread ongoing transmission.
  • On March 28, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and urges residents of those states to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days.
  •  

Travel Guidelines

For the general University population, the following travel guidelines (Updated March 22) are intended to lower the risk of exposure.

Outbound Travel Guidelines

  • The University is suspending all nonessential international and domestic travel through until further notice, and we urge similar caution in planning personal travel at this time. For further guidance, please view these travel related FAQs.
  • The U.S. State Department has increased the global health advisory travel warning to Level 4, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

Support

  • Students: We encourage any student who is not feeling well or who has questions or concerns to contact the Student Health Service at 773-702-4156. Students who need immediate counseling care should call 773-702-9800.
  • Faculty and Staff: The Staff and Faculty Assistance Program (SFAP) is a confidential program that provides support, counseling, and other resources for challenges that may arise.

Further Questions

General Information

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). Click here for more information.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Keep in mind that these symptoms are similar to those of other, more common respiratory illnesses, such as influenza.

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Have members of the University community tested positive for coronavirus?

On March 17, the University of Chicago announced its first case of COVID-19 on the Hyde Park campus. As of April 5, the University has 23 reported cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty, staff, other academic appointees, or postdoctoral researchers, excluding  the medical center. We will update this number on a weekly basis. (Note – These figures are not intended to be comprehensive, as they rely on self-reporting.)

The University provides case notifications for close contacts and other individuals who may be directly affected, in accordance with CDC and CDPH guidance. We regularly receive input from infectious disease experts to ensure that notifications are timely and useful in guiding behavior, while protecting the privacy of patients.

As noted by Provost Ka Yee C. Lee and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Kenneth Polonsky, the University expects significantly higher rates of infection in Chicago over the coming weeks. The University strongly recommends that individuals stay home as much as possible, as instructed in Governor Pritzker’s ‘stay at home’ order, and self-monitor for symptoms.

What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

Following protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University and the University of Chicago Medicine will work with local public health authorities to quickly identify and contact people who may have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. We will provide guidance and advice to those who have had close contact with the diagnosed individual, ranging from self-monitoring for symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) to self-isolation at home for 14 days.

If you believe you have met the definition of close contact with a COVID-19 patient, but have not been contacted directly, please contact Student Health at 773-702-4156 or your primary caregiver.

What does close contact mean?

The CDC defines close contact as “persons within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) or within the room or care area of a confirmed or probable case patient for a prolonged period of time, or with direct contact with infectious secretions while the case patient was likely to be infectious (beginning 1 day prior to illness onset and continuing until resolution of illness).

What does self-monitoring mean?

According to the CDC, self-monitoring means people should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation refers to the guidance for individuals to stay home and monitor their health following travel to a high-risk country. The Chicago Department of Public Health is advising self-isolation for those who have recently traveled to a country with CDC Travel Alert Level 3.

Is it safe for me to live with someone who has no symptoms and is in self-isolation?

CDC does not recommend testing, symptom monitoring or special management for people exposed to asymptomatic people with potential exposures to COVID-19 (such as in a household), i.e., “contacts of contacts.” These people are not considered exposed to COVID-19.

The University recommends that the University community continues to practice social distancing wherever possible.

I am experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms. What should I do?
If you have traveled to an area with reported community spread or believe you have been in contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and you do begin to feel sick with fever or cough, or have difficulty breathing:

  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. We encourage any student who is not feeling well to contact the Student Health Service at 773-702-4156. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • 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 immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
Is Student Health Service able to test for COVID-19?

The Student Health Service now has the capability of swabbing patients for COVID-19 and sending the sample for testing through the University of Chicago Medicine.  Test results are typically available within 24-72 hours. In order to maintain the ability to test patients as needed, and to avoid unnecessarily testing those who are not indicated for testing, please note that COVID-19 testing will only be performed on those individuals who meet appropriate clinical guidelines. The medical team in the Student Health Service, in conjunction with UChicago Medicine and following public health guidelines, will determine the appropriateness of COVID-19 testing on a case-by-case basis. At this time, it is not indicated to test all patients who have flu-like symptoms.

If you are concerned about whether you should isolate yourself, please review this helpful chart.

Can I see my doctor online if I’m on a University of Chicago medical plan?

 All of the University of Chicago plans are offering telemedicine options. More information is available here.

Is COVID-19 testing available for members of the campus community?

Students, academics, and staff who already receive medical care at the University of Chicago Medical Center, may contact their doctor through their MyChart account and, if appropriate, schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing. Please note: Testing is not available for the general public at this time. If you don’t receive care at UChicago Medicine, you should contact your own primary care provider.

How do we donate blood to UCM?

Volunteers are welcome to donate blood at the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, 5758 S. Maryland Avenue, Room 2E. Please call 773-702-6247 to make an appointment. 

Precautionary Steps and Information

What can I do to reduce my risk of COVID-19 exposure?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. CDC recommends everyday preventative actions that you can find here. The University also recommends that you practice social distancing.  

Should I wear a facemask to prevent infection?

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. 

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

For more information go here.

Should I stock up on essentials?
Ready.gov recommends that individuals build an emergency kit for use in any emergency. You can find more information here.
How do I know whether I’ve come into contact with an infected person?

According to the CDC’s exposure risk guidelines, spread from person-to-person happens most often during close exposure to a person infected with COVID-19. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, similar to how influenza viruses and other respiratory pathogens spread.

You are considered at high risk for exposure if you have lived in the same household as, been an intimate partner of, or provided care in a nonhealthcare setting (such as a home) for a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection without using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation

What should I do if my roommate or housemate gets sick?

Your roommate should seek medical advice, particularly if they recently traveled to an area with reported community spread or have been in contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and begins to feel sick with fever or cough, or has difficulty breathing.

• Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
• Clean hands regularly by handwashing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others. Call Student Health Service for support. (773-702-4156).
• Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
• Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, food, and drinks.

How can I access counseling care?
Students should contact Student Health Service at 773-702-4156. If you need immediate counseling care, please call 773-702-9800.

Faculty and staff may contact the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program, which provides support, counseling, and other resources for needs that may arise.

Travel

Is University-sponsored travel allowed?

The University is suspending all nonessential international and domestic University travel, effective immediately until further notice.. Essential travel is defined as supporting activities that are absolutely necessary, cannot be rescheduled, and must be done in person; further questions should be directed to appropriate deans or officers.

For additional guidance, please view these travel related FAQs.

Are Study Abroad programs continuing?
The University is suspending all faculty-led Study Abroad programs for Spring 2020. We will work on a case-by-case basis with College students who are currently abroad on direct enrollment programs. The University remains committed to international education and research, and we look forward to resuming normal activities when conditions allow.
I’m planning a personal trip abroad or within the United States. What should I consider?

The same public health considerations that led the University to suspend nonessential international and domestic University travel until further notice apply to personal trips as well.

How can I get help if something happens while I’m traveling overseas?

The U.S. State Department increased the global health advisory travel warning to Level 4, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. We strongly recommend that all faculty, staff, students, other academic appointees, and postdoctoral researchers currently traveling internationally consider now whether to return to the U.S. as options for travel may be further curtailed. Especially in light of the new State Department guidance, the University’s ability to provide assistance to travelers who wish to return home will be limited.

Campus Life

Is the University moving to online classes?

The University of Chicago will move to remote learning for undergraduate and graduate classes for the entire Spring Quarter of 2020, beginning on Monday, April 6, the first day of the Spring Quarter.

I’m hosting an event on campus. What should I consider?

All events on campus have been suspended until further notice.

Quarantine, Self-Isolation, and Social Distancing

When do I need to self-isolate?

Please use this document to assess whether you need to self-isolate.

Any traveler who has returned from a country with a CDC Level 3 travel health notice should not attend school or work (self -isolate) for 14 days after their return date, following Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines. This self-isolation period also applies to visitors to the University. Individuals should work directly with their departments to facilitate academic, research, or work continuity.

Can I go outside- i.e. go shopping or walk in the park – if I’ve been instructed to self-isolate?
In general you should limit public activities for the duration of the 14-day period and practice social distancing (definition below). University representatives can help you in determining activities. If you must leave your home, try to do so during off-hours and avoid places where people are congregating.
When is quarantine required?
You will be contacted by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) or the University if quarantine is required. Quarantines are typically used for individuals who are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
What does quarantine mean?
According to the CDC, “quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.” Quarantines are typically used for individuals who are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 – particularly those who have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, without using recommended precautions for caregivers.
If I am in self-isolation or quarantine, how will I continue my work?
Graduate students should work directly with their faculty advisor, lab director, or dean of students to facilitate academic, research, or work continuity. Students in the College should reach out to their advisor or the dean of students office. Faculty should discuss specific research needs with your Dean, Chair, or Deputy Dean to ensure it is properly considered in your unit’s COVID-19 continuity planning. Staff should be in touch with their manager or local human resources partner to address questions related to working remotely.
Am I at greater risk if I’ve been near someone who had to self-isolate?
The CDC assigns no elevated risk for people who have been in contact with others who had to self-isolate. The CDC’s assessment also identifies no greater risk for “contacts of contacts” of people who have had COVID-19. Risk assessment and prevention is focused on people who have had close contact or other direct exposure to individuals with “symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection.”
What is social distancing?
According to the CDC, social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, ride share), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.

University of Chicago Medical Center

What precautions is the hospital taking when testing/caring for COVID-19 patients?
The University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) is committed to providing safe and effective care to those who are being tested for COVID-19 and those who are infected. The Medical Center’s senior hospital leadership and leaders from the infectious diseases and infection prevention teams, along with other expert clinicians, are working closely with local, state and federal health officials and continue to apply up to date recommended guidelines. UCM follows rigorous isolation and infection control protocols to ensure the safety of staff, patients and neighbors.

More Information

Where do I find more information?