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Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus

  • What is coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the risk to the American public of becoming infected with this novel coronavirus is currently low. Because this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, including any changes in the risk assessment.

  • How does it spread?

    Although we have a lot to learn about this virus, it is currently believed that it spreads like other respiratory viruses- by people with the infection coughing and sneezing. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands.

  • How do I help prevent the spread of viruses?

    While there is no coronavirus currently spreading in the United States, you may be able to reduce the risk of spread of coronaviruses by taking the same steps as you would to prevent infection from the flu and the common cold:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
    • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • What are the symptoms of this infection?

    Symptoms of coronavirus may include the following:

    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

    If you have returned in the past 14 days from travel abroad and are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), the CDC advises you to seek medical advice and call ahead to your health-care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at Student Health, or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

  • What do I do if I feel sick?

    If your are sick, please stay home!  Per guidance from the California Department of Public Health, we are required to send any employee or student home if they have a fever and/or cough.  

    If you have returned in the past 14 days from travel abroad and are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms (such as fever with coughing or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath), the CDC advises you to seek medical advice and call ahead to your health-care provider or nurse advice line. Please do not show up at Student Health, or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

    The CDC Travel Alerts also advise you to:

    • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

    Monitor your symptoms closely. Remember that the likelihood is low that you have coronavirus. Take your temperature if you believe you have a fever.

    Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. Be especially careful around infants and small children as well as people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65. 

    Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

  • I feel anxious about coronavirus. What can I do?

    We understand that some community members are concerned. Remember that according to our state and local health departments, the risk to the campus community and to the U.S. population as a whole is currently low. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available: 

    You can help prevent the spread of colds and other viral ailments by doing the following:

    • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
    • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • How can I manage my concern for family or friends who may be impacted?

    As with any natural or human-inflicted incident, the novel coronavirus outbreak presents an added layer of stress and worry for members of our campus community who have personal connections to the affected areas. This is a critically important time for all of us to reinforce a community of care on our campus and support one another.

    If you would like to talk with someone, support is available:


Public health response and testing

  • Are there campus community members who are being screened for coronavirus?

    There are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in our campus community. However, several CSUSM students are in precautionary self-quarantine having attended a large event at which three people subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. As per guidance from San Diego COunty Department of Public Health, we are in ongoing communication with them and closely monitoring their health status. The students are currently asymptomatic and risk for contracting COVID-19 is minimal. 

    If there is a case or suspected case of COVID-19 on campus, the campus community will be notified, but to protect individual privacy, the University is legally not able to release personal information about any students or University community members who are being monitored or tested for novel coronavirus, including their location.Should any campus community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and the campus would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

  • How are you following up with people who were in contact with anyone who is being tested?

    If there were to be a case, local health departments closely monitor people who are at potential risk and have protocols for contacting individuals who may have been in close contact with Cal State San Marcos community members being screened for the novel coronavirus, such as roommates.

    Should any Cal State San Marcos community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and the campus would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

  • Are there resources for combating stigmatization, bias and xenophobia?

    Many of us are concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality

    The CDC has also released an important resource entitled, β€œShare Facts, Not Fear.”  During this situation, it’s vital that we live our values of diversity and inclusive excellence. We value all members of our community and stand united against bias and stereotyping.

    If you believe you have been treated unfairly, discriminated against or harassed based on a protected status, such as disability, medical condition, race or national origin, please contact the campus Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Administrator and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Gail Mendez, at ext. 4883 or the Associate Vice President & Title IX Coordinator Dr. Bridget Blanshan at ex. 6020

    If you or someone you know might need further support, the following resources are available to you

  • Where can I get more information about the novel coronavirus?

    For current information about this evolving public health situation, visit the following sites: