Novel coronavirus information

March 12, 2020

UW graduate student tests positive for COVID-19

Sent on behalf of the University’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases to all students, faculty and staff at the University of Washington

Dear members of the UW community,

Today, we learned that a UW Seattle campus graduate student has tested positive for COVID-19. The student is recovering at home, out of state, and we wish them well.

The student was last on campus on March 6. The student was tested March 11, at home, and informed the University of the results on March 12. The student lived in the Mercer Court campus housing. The apartment, rooms and common areas of Mercer Court and other buildings that the student has been in on campus are being cleaned and disinfected per public health guidance.

The UW’s Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S) has been in direct contact with the student and has been coordinating with Public Health – Seattle King County. Based on the information gathered from this case, the risk of transmission for the general community is considered to be low. Additional information has been sent to those who may have had close contact with the student. The University’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) is not currently recommending additional measures beyond those that have already been indicated, but will continue to monitor the situation and advise the appropriate individuals or groups accordingly, should that change.

For more information about COVID-19, see the University’s COVID-19 website. As a reminder, most people with COVID-19 infection develop mild to moderate illness without the need for medical care. Those who are older and/or have underlying health issues are at higher risk for developing more serious illness. The most important things each of us can do to limit the spread of illness are to:

  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for a least 20 seconds. If water is not available, use hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage.

Given increased testing and interventions, more cases can be expected as community spread of COVID-19 continues. Information about any future confirmed cases among UW community members will be sent to units and personnel known to be directly affected, and case counts will be maintained on the University’s COVID-19 website.

As President Ana Mari Cauce stated in a recent message, the strength, resilience and compassion of the UW community across all three of our campuses will help us navigate this difficult and ever-evolving situation. It’s important that we support one another and make decisions that help us limit the spread of this virus and protect those most vulnerable to it.

Geoffrey S. Gottlieb, M.D. Ph.D.
Interim Chair, UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases
Medical Director, UW Environmental Health & Safety Department
Professor of Medicine – Infectious Diseases
Adjunct Professor of Global Health
Center for Emerging & Re-emerging Infectious Diseases