With new information about COVID-19 developing at a brisk pace, we are writing to advise all members of the Duke community about specific areas of interest and concern. The task force that includes leadership from across the University and Duke Health continues to monitor activity in North Carolina and around the world. As a result of their work, we are providing the following updates (which can also be found at https://coronavirus.duke.edu):
- Effective immediately, we are expanding travel restrictions to include any country or region with CDC Level 2 designation or higher, which now includes China, Iran, Italy and South Korea as Level 3, and Japan as Level 2. No university funded or sponsored travel to those areas is permitted for students, faculty and staff, and any members of the Duke community who have been in those areas will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine before they are permitted to return to campus.
- If you are planning to leave campus for Spring Break, we again strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to reconsider any nonessential personal international travel, particularly to areas that are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. In addition to the possibility of illness, you may face unexpected travel restrictions that make it difficult or impossible to return to campus. If you visit a region that is placed on CDC Level 2 or 3 warning, you will likely experience canceled flights and restricted travel by local authorities and Duke will not be able to intervene on your behalf. You will also be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before you are permitted to return to Duke.
- Duke is not at this time restricting domestic travel. However, we encourage everyone to reconsider travel attendance at large conferences and events, which present a heightened risk of contact with individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. In addition, we strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to use the Duke Travel Registry for all university-sponsored and personal travel so you can be reached in the event of changing circumstances.
- If your travel has included an area with active communal spread of coronavirus, and if upon your return to Durham you exhibit signs of illness such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact Student Health (919-681-9355) or Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (919-684-3136) for further direction before coming back to campus.
- Anyone considering travelling should continue to monitor these websites for the latest information and guidance:
There are currently no reported or suspected cases of COVID-19 at Duke, and there may not be, but we are making a number of preparations to protect the health and safety of the Duke community including patients, students, staff and faculty. This includes the possibility that individuals might have to self-quarantine if they have traveled from or through an area designated Level 2 or higher by the CDC or were otherwise exposed to the virus. Any affected student currently living on-campus will be transferred to East Hall on East Campus, a formerly vacant residence hall that has been equipped to accommodate and support students under the direction of Duke Student Health. Students living off-campus will be required to self-isolate in their own home.
We continue to assess the advisability of maintaining the current calendar of events that are scheduled to take place on the Duke campus over the next 90 days. At this time, we are not making any mandatory changes. However, event sponsors should carefully consider whether planned events are essential, particularly those that will include travelers from other parts of the country or around the world, or whether they can be rescheduled or converted to an online format. University leaders are monitoring the situation and may need to implement more restrictive policies on short notice should conditions change.
While we are not making any changes to the academic calendar for undergraduate and graduate classes, we are monitoring the situation and will respond should that become necessary. Over the next week, we will be communicating with deans, department chairs and faculty about how best they can prepare in advance should it become advisable for Duke to end on-campus classes sooner than indicated by the Duke calendar. We hope this will not be necessary but want to be prepared.
Duke University Health System
Duke University Health System (DUHS) leadership teams have been coordinating clinical response efforts to COVID-19 with university representatives, state and federal officials, and other healthcare systems. At this time, we have a firm foundation of plans in place to care for our community and team. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we are constantly monitoring the latest developments and adjusting our response.
Our DUHS leadership COVID-19 task force has established a command center and is meeting daily. We have aligned our preparedness and clinical efforts across the health system in these focus areas:
- Implementing clinical protocols to identify, isolate and care for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. At this time there are no confirmed COVID-19 patients receiving clinical care at DUHS.
- Maintaining adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and clinical supplies.
- Managing current flu visitor restrictions and determining future expansions.
- Providing regular updates to all team members. The DUHS intranet page (available to DUHS staff only) is being updated regularly to share the latest developments and resources. This intranet page has FAQs, talking points, forms to submit questions and a video featuring a question and answer session with our leaders.
Preparations for the Future
Over the past several weeks the university task force has been currently overseeing planning efforts in all areas to prepare for potential significant changes in our activities should conditions warrant, including online instruction, telecommuting and human resource policies and other academic and operations.
Thanks to the efforts of many staff and faculty, we believe that Duke is well prepared to address the impact of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of our community, and continue our mission of education, discovery and patient care. Indeed, Duke experts are deeply engaged with colleagues around the world, as well as public health officials in North Carolina and elsewhere, in the global effort to assess, treat and eradicate COVID-19 through research and testing.
At the same time, we need to be prepared to adapt quickly to unanticipated shifts, and we appreciate your continued attention and responsiveness in a dynamic situation.
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President for Administration and Emergency CoordinatorJennifer Francis, Executive Vice ProvostThomas Owens, MD, President, Duke University Hospital and Senior Vice President, Duke University Health System