13:44 PM

University Update on Staying Healthy: General Safety and Travel Information

Dear Celts,

General information and COVID-19 updates will be emailed to employees (faculty and staff) on a regular basis. It is very important that we all keep informed and up-to-date.

The weather is getting nice and spring break is approaching. Travel may be a part of your plans.

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel.

We urge you to consult guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of State prior to and during your trip. Exercise caution when traveling to countries with Level 2 travel advisories and reconsider travel to countries with Level 3 travel advisories. The uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus have made travel to countries with extensive interactions with locations severely affected by COVID-19 more risky. As of March 4, 2020, the advisory level for China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran are at Level 3 (Avoid Non-Essential Travel) with an elevated advisory level for Japan (Level 2 – Practice Enhanced Precautions). 

As the virus spreads, it is likely that international travelers may face further restrictions while they are traveling or upon returning to the United States and may be subject to a mandatory 14-day, off-campus quarantine period.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, and other hygiene products may be limited, so consider bringing them with you.
  • Avoid traveling if you are sick.

Even if you travel within the continental United States, there are certain areas that pose a certain amount of risk and concerns may continue to grow that may require you to seek immediate healthcare, self-quarantine, or more based on the level of risk.

*If you are planning any travel over spring break—on behalf of the University or personally—we strongly encourage you to email stayhealthy@stthom.edu to let us know the following:

  • Your first and last name
  • UST ID#
  • Destination of travel outside the Houston Metropolitan area (international or domestic)
  • Date of departure
  • Date of return to Houston

If you are traveling internationally, it is highly recommended that you register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. All of these steps will help us coordinate with you if your travel plans unexpectedly change. Understand and routinely check any travel and border restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination and upon your return.

Some employees have asked about the potential impact on the availability of medications.

Aetna, our medical insurance administrator, is closely monitoring the global manufacturing environment. They, at this point, do not see any disruptions to the supply chain that will affect the ability to fill prescriptions. Plan ahead though and order refills in advance.

Situations like the Coronavirus and the news that is broadcasted can increase our anxiety and become stressful. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you and your dependents at no cost to you, and is entirely confidential. Reach out to them and talk about your concerns. They can be reached at 1-855-789-5815. Identify us as the University of St. Thomas in Houston and our company code is stthom.

The UST planning and response leadership team is diligently monitoring and working with the City of Houston and Harris County Health Departments to keep the entire UST community up-to-date and safe during this time and always. For additional information, you may check the coronavirus website at www.stthom.edu/stayhealthy.

Take care.

Randy Graham

Associate VP of Human Resources