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American University

March 16, 2020

Dear AU Community,

Today, we learned that an AU student living on campus tested positive for our community’s first known case of COVID-19. The student is receiving support and medical care, and remains in self-isolation per public health guidance, and we wish them a quick recovery. We know this is concerning news, but we extensively planned for this situation and the measures being implemented are supporting the health and safety of the student and our community.

The student had traveled within the United States and returned to campus before the end of spring break. As soon as the student presented with symptoms and contacted the Student Health Center, we took immediate action to help the student and protect the community. The student was self-isolated in an on-campus room with private bathroom facilities, away from other members of the community, and food and essential personal items were and continue to be delivered. The DC Department of Health has completed their investigation and determined that there were no close contacts on the campus. The student’s previous room, nearby public areas, and common areas around the student’s self-isolation room have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected according to public health guidance.

We have taken all appropriate steps and it is important for the community to remain calm and continue following guidance and procedures. We have taken proactive steps such as moving to online classes and telework to enhance social distancing. By limiting the number of people on campus, we can reduce the potential for community spread of COVID-19 even after an individual here has received a confirmed diagnosis. Importantly, we will maintain privacy of the student’s identity as we follow the DC Department of Health’s guidance.

We are continuously monitoring the situation and will provide additional updates to the community. For more information about COVID-19, see the AU COVID-19 Resource webpage. You can find more information from the CDC here for health and safety precautions related to COVID-19. 

With increased testing in the DC area and around the country, there will be more confirmed cases as community spread of COVID-19 continues. It is important to remember that most people who contract COVID-19 develop mild to moderate illness without the need for medical care. People in the higher risk categories – those who are older or who have underlying health issues – should take extra care, which is one of the reasons we offered immediate telework for anyone on our faculty or staff who self-identify in these categories. We can all help limit the spread of illness by practicing good health hygiene and social distancing. The university is continuing to conduct extensive cleaning of facilities across campus.

Our community is working together and supporting one another, which is even more critical as we now help one of our own who has tested positive. By following procedures and through the preparation and work of our teams in the Student Health Center, Housing and Residence Life, and other parts of the university, we are taking the appropriate actions to keep our community safe. We thank them. We know this is a challenging time for our entire community. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

Dr. David Reitman

Medical Director
Student Health Center
American University