2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

February 28, 2020

Dear Poets,

We want you to be aware that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is of concern and College administrators and staff are being vigilant of the situation. 

The College is committed to providing a safe environment for all students, faculty, and staff and is providing useful information below. For additional information, visit the Center for Disease Control website as well as the California Health Department website. If you have additional concerns, please contact the Health and Wellness Center at 562.464.4548. 

What is the novel coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a type of virus that causes upper respiratory symptoms ranging in severity from the common cold to a more serious respiratory infection causing pneumonia. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in several countries including the U.S., and more locally, Los Angeles County. 


Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle and body aches, and fatigue.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Prevention and Treatment

There is currently no vaccine available to prevent coronavirus disease 2019. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. The CDC recommends the following preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Sanitize dispensers are available throughout campus.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Health Information

According to the California Department of Public Health, as of February 27, 2020, there are a total of 33 positive cases in California: 24 are from repatriation flights. The other nine confirmed cases include seven that are travel-related, one due to person-to-person exposure from a very close contact (a spouse) and one from an unknown source. The department states that the health risk from novel coronavirus to the general public remains low at this time.