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Updates on COVID-19 for April 6

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

We are writing to share a few updates on items related to COVID-19. 

First, we’ve learned of two individuals close to our community who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The first is an employee who is recovering at home and doing well. The individual has been working remotely and did not have contact with anyone on campus in the two weeks prior to developing symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who become ill with COVID-19 typically begin displaying symptoms within 2-14 days, so we do not believe this case presents a risk to the campus community.

The other case is the spouse of an employee. Prior to their spouse’s positive test, the employee was on campus in the administrative building located at 101 South Chester Road (101) performing essential duties. A limited number of other employees in that same category were also reporting to 101 during that time. Though the employee is not currently displaying any symptoms, out of an abundance of caution, we have identified and spoken with those known to have been in close proximity to the employee. All of those individuals are self-quarantining. We are identifying others who may have been in that area of the building and will follow up with them to confirm whether they were in the immediate vicinity of this employee.

While we are fortunate that these cases do not appear to present a broad risk to the campus community, they underscore the importance of practicing social distancing. As a reminder, only employees performing essential work that cannot be done remotely should be on campus. Supervisors should continue to ensure that social distancing is enforced and proper precautions are taken to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Relatedly, you may know that last Friday, April 3, Governor Tom Wolf issued the recommendation that “all Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons.” The CDC has since offered similar recommendations. We encourage employees to wear face masks while performing essential on-campus work during COVID-19 modified operations.

We have been in communication with supervisors in areas with the highest numbers of employees whose work requires them to continue reporting to campus on a regular basis. We are working quickly — thanks, in part, to the efforts of members within the College community — to procure washable fabric masks for essential employees. In the meantime, we have limited numbers of disposable masks sufficient to meet current needs. Note that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is encouraging people to make their own masks [pdf] and not to purchase those masks designed for health care professionals such as N95 and surgical masks. 

Please contact your supervisor if you have questions about obtaining a mask while on campus for essential work.

It remains the case that wearing masks is meant to minimize the possibility of those who have COVID-19, regardless of whether they are symptomatic, from spreading it to others. The CDC has a number of resources for individuals looking for more information on COVID-19, including measures to protect yourself and what to do if you are sick

Students who remain on campus and are feeling ill, or suspect they may have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, should contact the on-call registered nurse at 610-328-8548. Please continue to direct any non-urgent, routine questions to health@swarthmore.edu and a Worth Health Center staff member will get back to you within 48-72 hours. In addition, the Health Center website has an updated list of local resources. 

Employees who suspect they have COVID-19 or who test positive should inform either their supervisor or Human Resources immediately so that the College can work with you to identify anyone with whom you may have come into contact. 

The COVID-19 Planning Group will continue to provide periodic updates during this ongoing pandemic. If you have questions related to the College’s response to COVID-19, you can visit our COVID-19 information site or email covid19@swarthmore.edu

Sincerely,
COVID-19 Planning Group