As the continuing worldwide spread of COVID-19 draws attention and concern, the University of Pittsburgh is actively monitoring the situation and taking steps to prevent the spread of disease.
On March 3, Pitt announced that it was canceling all University-sponsored spring break travel involving air travel and instructing students studying in programs in Spain, France and Germany to return to the United States and engage in social distancing.
This decision was made in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and the need to take all reasonable precautions to protect the Pitt community, as well as prevent any individuals from becoming stranded in an affected location. The University is working closely with impacted students, faculty and staff members to arrange transportation home, academic accommodations and the necessary refund of costs.
Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner issued guidance to students planning to travel on their own over spring break. Whether traveling abroad or within the United States, Bonner wrote, students are “encouraged to carefully consider their travel plans and to keep up to date and adhere to all travel guidelines…If students choose to continue with their travel abroad during spring break, they should monitor the CDC and the U.S. Department of State websites for travel restrictions that may be put into place during their trip. This is a fluid situation, with the potential for quick updates and restrictions to occur.”
Meanwhile, across campus, Pitt’s Facilities Management team has taken concrete steps to help prevent the potential spread of disease locally. This has included implementing a plan to rapidly install more than 400 hand sanitizer units at 145 locations across campus, including all housing, educational and general facilities. Members of the cleaning staff are being encouraged to provide thorough cleanings of high-touch areas—such as doorknobs and elevator buttons—which are other possible transmission points.
Preparedness activities continue as well at Pitt’s clinical partner, UPMC. Leaders of the planning effort there joined Allegheny County Health Department officials on March 3 for a news briefing on their work to be ready for an outbreak.
For the most up-to-date information on this rapidly evolving situation, visit the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management website.