We are writing to provide you an update about the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important for all of us to make sure we are taking precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu, which we frequently see this time of year.
COVID-19 and many other common respiratory viruses spread through contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets, such as when a person coughs or sneezes. To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, the CDC recommends that individuals engage in everyday preventive measures to help stop the spread of germs and avoid illness, such as:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands.
• Do not share personal items such as water bottles.
• Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick. The CDC recommends that individuals remain home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (i.e., chills, feeling warm, flushed appearance).
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately discard the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
In addition to these personal prevention measures, school, college and university community members should avoid all travel to any locations for which CDC has issued a Level 3 travel notice. See CDC travel notice website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices. Travel to other countries outside of the U.S. should be discussed with an individual’s healthcare provider.
According to the health department, people who have returned from mainland China are being monitored by public health authorities and must stay home for 14 days after their travel. People who have returned from other locations with travel notices for COVID-19 may continue to attend work and school. If you develop symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, or shortness of breath), you should:
• Take your temperature with a thermometer.
• Stay home and avoid close contact with other people.
• Seek health advice by phone from either a healthcare provider or the NH Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496 (after-hours 603-271-5300).
• Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell the provider or office about recent travel and symptoms.
• Practice strict respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene including covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• If available, wear a surgical mask when traveling outside of the home (e.g. to a doctor’s office)
Outbreaks involving COVID-19 evolve quickly and recommendations from public health officials may change as new information becomes available. Please check the following websites often for updated information:
• U.S. CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/summary.html
• NH Division of Public Health Services website: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/2019-ncov.htm
David Backler, Superintendent