At the end of 2019, a novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. The virus was named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It causes COVID-19, and it spread rapidly, causing an epidemic throughout China and an increasing number of cases throughout the world. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak an international public health emergency. In March 2020, the WHO designated the outbreak a pandemic.
The Montclair State University Restart Plan employs several strategies to mitigate transmission of the virus. To understand why these strategies were chosen, it is necessary to understand viral transmission. Scientific experts believe that the virus is most commonly transmitted by direct person-to-person respiratory spread, which occurs when a person with infection coughs, sneezes, or talks to another person and droplets make direct contact with the mucus membranes of the other person. Droplets typically do not travel more than 6 feet. Infection can also occur if a person touches an infected surface and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus has also been detected in non-respiratory specimens, including stool, blood, ocular secretions, and semen. The role of these body fluids in transmission is uncertain.
According to the World Health Organization, the incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset, is on average 5 to 6 days; however, it can be up to 14 days. During this period, which is also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious. However, the exact time interval during which an individual can transmit infection to others is uncertain. The virus can be transmitted early in the course of the illness, but the length of time that a person remains infectious is uncertain. The duration of viral RNA shedding is variable and may depend on illness severity.
The risk of transmission varies by the type and duration of exposure, use of preventive measures, and other individual factors such as the amount of virus in respiratory secretions. The risk of transmission increases with the closeness and duration of contact. Most secondary infections have been described among household contacts, in hospitals and long-term care facilities where personal protective equipment was not used, and in closed settings. Outdoor settings are generally considered lower risk for transmission than indoor settings. Viruses present on contaminated surfaces may be another source of infection if susceptible individuals touch these surfaces and then transfer infectious virus to mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes, or nose. The frequency and relative importance of this type of transmission is not established.
These data highlight the importance of taking proactive measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in developing and implementing a plan for returning to campus. They are the basis for the safeguards specified in this Plan, which include social/physical distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, environmental sanitation, screening for contact and symptom identification, asymptomatic testing for high risk populations, testing for symptomatic or exposed persons, quarantine for exposed persons, isolation for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, and contact tracing of individuals who have had contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 7:27 pm