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Reporting, and self-reporting, COVID-19 cases

Categories: Health & safety, Leadership communications

Last modified on

TO: Stanford University community
FROM: Russell Furr, Associate Vice Provost, Environmental Health & Safety

The spread of COVID-19 has continued in our country and elsewhere around the world. While the Bay Area and California have enacted shelter-in-place protocols, the experience of other countries suggests that it takes time for these types of measures to have an impact, and we anticipate increasing levels of infection for some time to come.

Here, I’d like to share updated information about what we are seeing in the Stanford community, and about the self-reporting we need from the Stanford community to assist our efforts to slow the spread of infection.

The wider picture

First, an important caution: Raw numbers you may be seeing about confirmed cases of COVID-19 underestimate the actual risk of transmission. We now know that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted by those who have not experienced noticeable symptoms, let alone those who have received a positive test result. As of Monday, there were 375 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County. However, the county public health department stated that because of limited testing capacity, that number “almost certainly represents a small fraction of the total number of persons with COVID-19 in the county.”

The best advice right now is to continue to practice social distancing, and to not assume that you can only be infected by someone who is symptomatic or who has received a positive test result. You should assume there is widespread community transmission and take the necessary steps to help reduce it.

1 on-campus student case currently; 24 in the broad Stanford community, wherever they live

Among students who are currently living on the Stanford campus, we are aware of one (1) student with a positive COVID-19 test result. This student is self-isolating on campus.

Including that case, we are currently aware of 24 individuals, residing in a variety of communities in the Bay Area and beyond, who are connected to the Stanford community either as faculty, staff, students or postdocs and who have received positive COVID-19 test results. Individuals in this category are advised to recuperate in self-isolation and to seek medical care when they need it.

This figure includes both individuals tested at Stanford as well those who have been tested elsewhere and have self-reported their results to the university. It includes students who have left the Stanford area and returned to their homes. It also includes School of Medicine employees, including those working in clinical settings. However, this count should not be considered comprehensive, given that it is partly based on self-reporting to the university (read more on this below) and given the quickly changing nature of the COVID-19 spread.

We intend to provide periodic updates on COVID-19 confirmations as new information becomes available. We will provide updates on this web page. We will not be able to provide details about individual cases, due to student and patient privacy rights, and we encourage others in our community to be respectful of those privacy rights, as well.

Student self-isolation on campus

When we learn of confirmed student cases of COVID-19, our response includes tracing close contacts to advise them of steps they may need to take, ensuring there are connections to medical care and emotional health support, and providing for self-isolation for students living on campus.

Following CDC guidelines, our protocol is for self-isolation to occur in a single room with a private bathroom, with no interaction with nearby residents and no use of building common areas such as lounges or laundry rooms. This may occur in a stand-alone structure or in a multi-unit complex that houses other people. However, none of these complexes has air circulating between units, and all common spaces and common areas are receiving enhanced cleaning and disinfection daily.

So far, a very limited number of students have needed to self-isolate on campus, either because they are awaiting or have received a COVID-19 test result, or because they have returned from or traveled through a CDC Level 3 country.

Self-reporting to the university

We need our community – faculty, staff, students, postdocs – to let Stanford know if you are awaiting or have received a test result for COVID-19. This is both to connect you to resources that can support you, and to help the university assess the impacts of the virus in our community. The university is requiring the following notifications:

  • Undergraduates and graduate/professional students who are awaiting a test result or who have received a COVID-19 test result should contact Dean of Students Mona Hicks at deanofstudents@stanford.edu.
  • Faculty and staff should report this information to their school/unit HR director or HR manager.
  • Postdoctoral scholars should report this information to pdcovid19@stanford.edu, which alerts the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. For further questions, please contact Associate Dean Sofie Kleppner at postdocaffairs@stanford.edu.

In addition, you should report flu-like symptoms you experience to the university, through the same channels listed above, if you are expected to be on campus either partially or fully to do your work. Please stay home if you are sick and do not come to your workplace if you are experiencing symptoms.

The healthalerts.stanford.edu site has much more information for those with questions about coping with coronavirus, and your questions also can be sent to health-alerts@stanford.edu. Thank you for everything you are doing to navigate the challenges of this unusual situation, and to support the health of our community.

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