Date: March 18, 2020

Katherine Fleming, Provost
Martin Dorph, Executive Vice President
Carlo Ciotoli, MD, MPA, Associate Vice President for Student Health
Sabrina Ellis, Vice President for University Human Resources

To: All Faculty, Researchers, Administrators, Staff, and Student Employees

Over the course of the last few weeks, the spread of COVID-19 has raised questions among employees about how to keep themselves, their colleagues, and the broader community safe, healthy, and well. This latest communication contains important guidance about how to protect the community while respecting individuals’ privacy and dignity, as well as precautions individuals can take to keep themselves healthy.

What Employees Should Do If They Think They Are Sick with COVID-19 or Think They Might Have It

Generally speaking, employees who believe they are sick with a contagious illness should stay home to help their colleagues avoid being exposed. That is also true with COVID-19.

With respect to COVID-19: the key symptoms are cough, fever, sore throat, and shortness of breath. COVID-19 testing will be covered at 100% with no member co-pay in all NYU employee medical plans.

Employees Who Show Symptoms or Receive a Confirming Diagnosis

If you develop the symptoms of COVID-19 or if you are positively diagnosed with it outside of work, please stay home and notify your supervisor or department head as soon as possible. Supervisors/department heads should contact their HR officer. We want you to receive the care that you may require and to limit your exposure to others to the greatest extent possible.

If you become sick at work or start developing the symptoms of COVID, immediately practice social distancing (such as going to the nearest empty room or otherwise removing yourself from the proximity of colleagues), notify your supervisor or your HR Officer, and plan on going home promptly.

Next steps

Working with University medical staff, we will determine whether or not any close contacts need to be notified. Some employees, typically those who are close contacts, may be instructed to self-quarantine. Employees who are required to self-quarantine (no symptoms) or self-isolate (presumptive symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis) will continue in their regular paid status, and the time will not be deducted from sick-time or any other accrued balances.

Guidance for those with COVID-19 from the NYC Department of Health

  • Stay home except to get medical care. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation. As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • If you do not feel better in three to four days, consult your health care provider. Try to call, text, telemedicine, or use your patient portal to contact your physician.
  • If you need to seek treatment or have an appointment to be seen, call ahead. Tell the doctor’s office or emergency department you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
  • If you do not have a personal physician, NYU Langone offers a virtual urgent care that you can access from a mobile device: NYU Langone Health Virtual Urgent Care via mobile device.
  • If you are not severely ill, please avoid going to the emergency department and other places for the acutely ill in seeking healthcare. Stay home and keep acute health care access available for others with more severe illness.
  • If you have family or friends who are older adults or have chronic conditions, do not visit them if you feel sick.
    Duration of Your Stay at Home / Returning to Work
  • Stay home for seven days after your symptoms started and for three days after your fever has stopped without the use of fever-reducing drug (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc).

Employees Who Have Been Asked to Self-Quarantine

If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you may well be instructed to self-quarantine; it is likely that you will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, the virus’ incubation period. Your health care provider will provide additional instructions on whether individuals in your household should also quarantine.

You should monitor your health during this time. If you experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or a sore throat you should reach out to your health care provider immediately. Generally self-quarantine is only recommended if an exposed individual meets the following criteria:

a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case

– or –

b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

Those Who Are Not Close Contacts

Those who are not considered close contacts typically will not need to take any specific action such as self-quarantine.

Based on guidance from health authorities, the fact that a colleague or student that you encountered in your workplace is self-isolating does NOT automatically mean that the office is to shut down or that everyone in that office must likewise self-isolate. Generally speaking, the NY City Health Department’s guidance is as follows:

At this time only those persons, excluding health care workers, who are considered close contacts (e.g., household contacts and intimate partners) and identified by public health will be instructed to self monitor for 14 days.

Prevention and Self-Health

The following precautions can help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others
  • Stay home and reduce overcrowding. Whether you are healthy or sick, stay home as much as possible. You should only leave your home for essential tasks, such as work (if you cannot work from home), getting groceries and supplies, or essential medical care. Try to use delivery services when possible.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hands.
  • Do not touch your face - especially your eyes, nose, or mouth - with unwashed hands.
  • Monitor your health more closely than usual for cold or flu symptoms.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Do not shake hands. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
  • If you are an older adult or have lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a weakened immune system, avoid all unnecessary gatherings and events.

We thank you for your continued support and service, please be in touch with your supervisor or local HR Officer if you have any questions. The situation is fluid and the University is tackling developments very closely. Contingency plans for numerous possible scenarios are under consideration. We know that this can be a stressful time. If you wish to confidentiality speak to someone, please speak with a Board-certified counselor from Carebridge Employee Assistance Program (EAP).