Health Updates

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

Frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

Given the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have revamped this page to allow visitors to find information of greatest interest to them quickly. As answers to frequently asked questions are updated, the question will note the date of the most recent change.

For a full list of messages sent to the Case Western Reserve community, visit our COVID-19 Campus Communications page.

If you have questions not addressed on this page, please email covidprep@case.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. 

The key symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. 

For more information on symptoms, visit the CDC's symptoms page.

  • Stay home. 
  • If on campus, call Health Services at 216.368.2450. Please do not come in. Faculty and staff, or students who are off campus, should contact their primary medical providers.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home. As much as possible stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people. Use a separate bathroom, if available. 
  • Limit contact with pets and animals. 

For additional information on what to do if you are sick, visit the CDC website

Aetna will waive co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19, including test kits for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. Aetna will waive the member costs associated with diagnostic testing at any authorized location.

Students are also welcome to ask questions of a Medical Plan representative via medicalplan@case.edu or Aetna's customer service representatives at 877.850.6038.

University Health Services does not have testing kits for COVID-19. Testing for COVID-19 is currently available only with a provider order. In Northeast Ohio, tests are being prioritized for people who are older than 61 years of age or are in the hospital.

  • Stay home from work, school and away from other public places. 
  • Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call Health Services or your provider immediately. 
  • Get rest and stay hydrated. 
  • Cover your cough and sneezes. 
  • For medical emergencies, call 911 if off campus or 216.368.3333 if on campus and notify the dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19. 
  • Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes towels and bedding. 
  • Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs. 

For more information visit the CDC webpage on caring for yourself at home

Students who are on campus should contact Residence Life at 216.368.6325 or residencelife@case.edu or Campus Housing at 216.368.3780 or housing@case.edu if you need assistance. 

Prevention

Prevention methods for COVID-19 (coronavirus) are the same as for reducing the chances of catching the flu:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • practice social distancing;
  • avoid close contact with other people who are ill;
  • cough into your elbow; regularly clean door handles and other surfaces with disinfectant spray or wipes; and
  • stay home if sick.
  • Stay home. 
  • Give yourself a buffer zone. Try not to get physically close to people when you’re outside your home. As a general rule, try to be six feet away from the closest person.
  • Rethink your greeting. Don’t hug or shake hands. 
  • Avoid groups of people. More people = more chances to come in direct (or indirect) contact with the virus. 

Studies show that effective handwashing can reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses by as much as 20 percent. Below is specific guidance from health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides extensive guidance on handwashing; among its key recommendations are to wash hands no for no fewer than 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), and if using hand sanitizer, make sure it has at least 60 percent alcohol.

The World Health Organization has even more detailed hand hygiene guidance. Please pay particular attention to pages 3 and 4 of this document.

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures may be difficult to maintain. 

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. 

More guidance, including instructions to make a mask at home, can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

We are closely following the recommendations of the CDC, consulting with infectious disease experts within the university, and working with state and local public health officials.

UPDATE as of March 13: The university has made the difficult decision to continue remote education for the rest of the semester. 

We have made this choice for several reasons, including:

  • the health and safety of the campus community amid rapidly growing concern about the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio;
  • a desire to bring clarity regarding the university’s plans for students and their families; and
  • the academic benefits in enabling faculty and students to plan for remote course delivery during the coming months.

See the full March 13 message to campus.


As announced March 10: Case Western Reserve will move to remote delivery of education for nearly of our programs. The single exception involves those students participating in clinical activities as part of their academic preparation; in those instances, the deans of the respective schools will provide direct guidance regarding which clinical experiences will continue.

To allow faculty time to prepare for this transition, all classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday (March 16-17). 

Remote education will commence Wednesday, March 18. As of this writing, we plan to continue this approach through Monday, April 6. See the full March 10 message to campus.

  • Get a flu shot. We strongly recommend that everyone obtain seasonal flu vaccination. While it will not prevent COVID-19, influenza is in widespread circulation in Ohio, and initial symptoms can be similar to novel coronavirus. Any illness right now can increase anxiety and concerns.  
  • Wash your hands. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Don’t share food and drinks.
  • Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently (e.g. door knobs, desks, phones)
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Campus Housing

On March 13, the university provided move-out details for those able to do so between March 13-17

These four days will not be the only opportunity to move out of residence halls. The university will provide additional details on move-out for other dates as soon as it becomes available.

Refer to the University Housing website for more information, including storage and shipping options.

UPDATE as of 3/13: The university has announced remote learning will continue for the remainder of the semester. Move-out instructions for those who can do so between March 13-17 were sent the evening of March 13.


We are strongly recommending that students return to their family homes because of our desire to maintain your health and that of other members of the campus community. Many of our undergraduates live in fairly close quarters, and a significant number of their classes involve sizes and/or spaces where students sit quite near one another (and, in some cases, faculty as well).

As of March 12, the university has moved from a registration process to one requiring review and approval to stay in university housing. See the full communication in the March 12 email to students.

As of March 12, student employment or volunteering do not constitute a reason to stay on campus. See the full March 12 email to students.

As of March 13: The university has provided move-out instructions for those able to do so between March 13-17. Details for move-out at a later time will be provided when available.

Refer to the University Housing website for more information, including storage and shipping options.


As of March 12: At your request, the university will make arrangements to ship limited number of education-related items from campus to your home. If you would like staff to enter your campus residence to collect books, technology and other items needed for your remote coursework, please complete this Item Request form.

On March 13, the university announced remote delivery of education would continue through the end of the semester. Move-out instructions for those who can do so between March 13-17 also were provided.

UPDATE: As of March 13, the university has moved to remote delivery of education for the remainder of the semester.


We strongly encourage you to stay if at all possible. Given the rapid spread of COVID-19 and measures that governments have been taking in response, leaving this country now risks the real possibility that you may not be able to return to campus if the university returns to regular academic operations next month. In that context, we recommend that you consult with International Student Services before making any decision, particularly if you are thinking of leaving the U.S.

As of March 12, the university is only allowing students to stay on campus if they meet one of two criteria:

  1. Their home is abroad and they have no options for housing in the U.S. with relatives.
  2. Living somewhere other than on campus poses significant hardship (financial or otherwise) and/or risk to their health and well-being.

No. We recognize that the speed of these changes makes it impossible for everyone to pack all of their belongings within four days. Read the full March 14 email to students.

That date has not yet been determined, but rest assured the university will provide ample notice. For now, we can say that the deadline will not be before April 6. Read the full March 14 email to students.

Yes, but please keep in mind that circumstances can change drastically in the next several days. Among the possibilities are: a ban on domestic air travel; a ban on any interstate travel; or restrictions to homes for all except emergency providers.

If you do decide to stay a few days longer, you still must be off campus no later than noon, Sunday, March 22 (just you, not all of your things).

Read the full March 14 email to students.

Because so many fewer undergraduates will be living on campus, the number of graduate students likewise can be smaller. If you feel you have an extenuating reason to stay, please contact Residence Life.

Read the full March 14 email to students.

We realize that this major, mid-semester change creates unexpected expenses that some families are unable to afford. In such instances, we recommend you apply to the Student Emergency Fund where staff already have been reviewing and acting on requests.

Read the full March 14 email to students.

Remote Delivery of Education

The university is working with faculty to assist them in adapting their courses for remote delivery. As we noted Tuesday, all classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17, to allow professors additional time to prepare. We would expect you to receive an update in some form (email, on Canvas, etc.) no later than 5 p.m. (EDT) Monday, March 16. (Remember, classes resume Wednesday, March 18.)

Faculty are working now to develop alternative approaches to meet the course objectives under these new restrictions, and will communicate directly with students regarding how they will address this issue in their particular classes.

In these unusual circumstances, the School of Graduate Studies will adjust those rules to allow those activities to take place remotely. Deadlines to submit materials for degree certifications also will be revised to accommodate the timeline changes this situation creates.

The answer to this question will vary by the nature of your work and, in some cases, the direction of your employers. Below are some broad guidelines, but we strongly encourage that you also consult with the university faculty or staff member coordinating your program and your employer.

  1. If your work involves contact with individuals whom the CDC identifies as high risk for complications from contracting COVID-19 (for example, nursing home, senior center, dialysis center, etc.):
    We recommend that you consult with your campus program representative and employer about ways that you can contribute remotely.
     
  2. If you work in a public setting that involves a broad range of individuals coming and going (for example, a downtown courthouse, board of elections, city hall, etc.):
    We recommend that you consult with your program representative and employer regarding whether you can contribute remotely. If the nature of your work makes doing so impossible (and you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19), we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.
     
  3. If you work in a more traditional office setting and your employer has not recommended remote work:
    If you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19, we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.  

For all other circumstances, consult with your campus program representative and employer for guidance.

In some instances (such as certain small seminars), faculty may prefer to have students participate on a conference call rather than use an online option (such as a videoconference). The Office of the Provost and [U]Tech are working closely with professors to provide assistance and answer specific questions; for additional resources and guidance, please visit UTech's webpage.

The specific adjustments necessary will depend on the course, but among the recommendations offered have been:

  • For some lab courses, faculty can provide types of results students would have achieved through their experiments and have them conduct the analysis part of the assignment.
  • Performance-based assignments could be completed and observed via videoconference.
  • Faculty can consider other kinds of assignments that align with the course objectives.

As of March 13, the university has made the difficult decision to continue remote delivery of education for the remainder of the semester. Read the full March 13 communication.

Remote Work

As of March the 16, the university is transitioning as many of its operations as possible to remote work. Read the full March 16 communications and check a list of FAQ.

Travel

Yes. We have directed members of the campus community returning from countries the CDC designates for Level 3 warning to register at least three days before they come to campus; those with potential risk have been required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

CWRU recommends avoiding travel to or through any country with a Level 2 designation from the CDC. We will continue to monitor the risk associated with travel to these areas and anticipate the 14-day self-isolation period may be extended to these locations.

As of March 4: In light of the speed and extent of the spread of COVID-19, Case Western Reserve now encourages all members of the campus community to reconsider upcoming travel abroad—even to those countries with zero confirmed cases. (See our March 4 communication below.)

Anyone who has been in a country designated as Level 3 (as of March 1, China, South Korea, Iran and Italy) within the past 14 days cannot come to campus. Such presentations must be rescheduled or done remotely (e.g. online via videoconference).

As of March 10, the university will prohibit all on-campus meetings, gatherings and/or conferences larger than 25 people. This ban will continue through Monday, April 20.

Case Western Reserve has prohibited university-related travel to countries the CDC has designated as Level 3 (those who wish to request an exception must complete this form).

Update as of March 4: In light of the speed and extent of the spread of COVID-19, Case Western Reserve now encourages all members of the campus community to reconsider upcoming travel abroad—even to those countries with zero confirmed cases.

In that context, the risks that COVID-19 itself poses, the potential difficulties travelers may face in returning, and the possibility of quarantine upon arrival together require that we provide this guidance. If you do plan to travel internationally for any reason, we again ask that faculty and staff complete this registration form at least three days prior to departure. Students are asked to provide their information on this form with the Office of Education Abroad.

See full March 4 communication below.

As of March 2, all university-related spring break study abroad programs are canceled. Please see the March 2 message below for additional information. 

 

In light of continuing COVID-19-related developments in the U.S., as of March 5, the university is now requesting that all faculty, staff and students traveling anywhere outside Northeast Ohio during spring break register with the university before departure.

Faculty and staff are asked to complete this form regarding spring break travel in the U.S.; students are asked to complete this form.

We make this request out of the possibility that, as additional outbreaks arise, travelers to certain domestic areas may be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus (This requirement now applies to those countries the Centers for Disease Control designates as Level 2 or 3).

In addition, we are prohibiting all university-related domestic travel to cities or counties where government leaders have declared a health emergency—or the CDC has declared high risk. As of now, the only places that fit that definition are Los Angeles and King counties (Seattle is in the latter); we will provide updates should additional localities join them.

See full communications in the March 5 message below.

Those who paid personally for travel that had to be canceled per the university’s direction will be reimbursed per the university’s usual policies and protocols. Please see Item #7 on this online document for more information. 

As of Wednesday, March 11, there is no sponsored international travel for anyone and no sponsored domestic travel for individuals who engage directly in delivery of health care. Other sponsored domestic travel is strongly discouraged (i.e. it should only occur if it’s absolutely essential).

Keep in mind, this can change at any moment. The university will update you promptly should this direction need to be revised.

Information for Parents

Students should self-isolate (please follow these instructions). They should call University Health Services at 216.368.2450 or their local healthcare provider for additional instructions. 

Yes, but for the health and safety of the campus community UHS has transitioned to all phone appointments; in-person visits will take place only after a phone consultation during which the UHS provider determines the need for one. 

Students who would like an appointment with Health Services should call 216.368.2450. Students also can continue using myhealthconnect.case.edu to request refills and send messages to their providers. 

Students with fever, cough, any respiratory symptoms or concerns for COVID-19 exposure, should call 216.368.2450 for instructions. They should NOT come to Health or Counseling Services, 

Case Western Reserve has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campus. Students with symptoms are asked to self-isolate in their residence hall or apartment. Students on campus receive meals and supplies for self-monitoring and hygiene, and UHS staff also follow their progress, Students should contact UHS right away if their symptoms worsen. 

Students who are on-campus can contact Residence Life at 216.368.6325 or residencelife@case.edu or Campus Housing at 216.368.3780 or housing@case.edu if they need assistance. Students should also contact Health Service at 216.368.2450 if their symptoms worsen. 

University Counseling Services is providing visits via telephone. Students who would like to speak to a counselor, call 216.368.5872. The counselor on call will connect that student with an appropriate clinician based on the student's location and concerns. 

Please refer to the Do I Need to Self-Isolate or Quarantine page for instructions on what to do if your student was exposed. 

UHS has received similar reports, and has investigated every one. In instances of confirmed or suspected cases, UHS contacts any member of the campus community known to have been in contact with that student. 

Additional Questions and Guidance

If you are a student, you can contact University Counseling Services at 216.368.5872 (a counselor is available 24/7).

If you are a faculty or staff member, you can contact IMPACT Solutions, a confidential and free counseling and referral program for benefits-eligible employees. To learn more, visit the CWRU Human Resources website.

In addition, we have a number of tips for managing fears and anxiety around coronavirus. We hope the following information will help you better understand reactions you may have and, if needed, point you to helpful resources.

  • Contact a counselor. If you need to speak with a counselor, please call (216) 368-5872 any time.
  • Take care of your mind. Constant searching, scrolling or consumption of coronavirus news will can make students feel more anxious and afraid. Take breaks from media coverage and use this page for updates rather than checking unreliable sites. 
  • Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Reach out to others and offer support, empathy, information and, if possible, tangible help. Stay connected using technology such as video chat, Zoom group calls, and cellphone texting and conversations. Personal relationships are crucial in maintaining perspective and elevating mood.
  • Increase your feel-good activities. Whether mindfulness, talking to your friends and family members, going for walks, journaling, or watching Netflix, now is the time to increase positive experiences in your daily schedule. For a quick stress reliever, University Health and Counseling services offers free guided meditations
  • Take care of your body. Eating healthy meals, exercising, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, and limiting your alcohol consumption can help your immune system. Even while maintaining a safe distance from other people, you can still go outside! Regular exercise can reduce anxiety.

Additional mental health resources can be found here. 

The university has already begin exploring different options for our international students based on potential implications of this outbreak. For now, we encourage you to contact the Office of International Student Services at international@case.edu, call 216.368.2517, or stop by the office in Tomlinson 143 during regular business hours. 

UPDATE: As of March 13, the university has made the difficult decision to continue remote delivery of education for the remainder of the semester. Read the full March 13 communication.


As of March 10, the university has moved to remote delivery of education for nearly all of our programs. The single exception involves those students participating in clinical activities as part of their academic preparation; in those instances, the deans of the respective schools will provide direct guidance regarding which clinical experiences will continue.

To allow faculty time to prepare for this transition, all classes are cancelled Monday and Tuesday (March 16-17).

Remote education will commence Wednesday, March 18. As of this writing, we plan to continue this approach through Monday, April 6. In between, we will closely monitor COVID-19 developments within our region and nationwide, and will communicate any changes to that end date as quickly as possible.

We are amid the university’s Spring Break. Those who have traveled outside of Cleveland this week are encouraged to return to their homes, as are those now staying in our residence halls. Those who need to retrieve additional items from their on-campus housing before returning home are of course permitted to do so.

We understand that some of our students will want or need to stay in the residence halls. For those individuals, the university will provide meals, cleaning and maintenance; in addition, health and counseling services will continue, and adult residence life staff will be present and provide some small group activities.

In addition, effective today the university will prohibit all on-campus meetings, gatherings and/or conferences larger than 25 people. This ban will continue through Monday, April 20. As with remote delivery of education, the university will monitor local and national developments closely and provide updates regarding the length of the direction.

Consult with the Student Affairs staff member who oversees the area that includes your activity for more information. 

The university’s first priority remains the health and safety of the campus community. In that context, we wanted to communicate with you and your parents as quickly as possible after the decision to transition to remote instruction. 

That said, we recognize that some of these decisions have financial and other implications. Staff are working through all of the applicable laws, regulations and university policies to address these issues and will provide more specific guidance as soon as possible.

Again, we recognize that these changes to the spring semester are disappointing and frustrating. We apologize for all of the difficulties and questions that they are creating for you and your loved ones. We also very much appreciate your patience as we work to provide the most accurate and reliable answers as possible.

While CWRU works to protect the health of our campus community, UH&CS is open and here to support our students. 

We continue to operate under normal business hours

Health Services: 

Health Services is currently offering phone and video visits, with in-person visits at the discretion of Health Service staff. 

  • If you would like an appointment with Health Services, please call (216) 368-2450 to speak with a medical professional. 
  • You are welcome to continue using myhealthconnect.case.edu for requesting refills and to send messages to your provider.
  • If you have a fever, cough, any respiratory symptoms or concern for COVID-19 exposure, please call (216) 368-2450 to receive instructions, 

Counseling: 

We recognize the anxiety and emotional strain that these circumstances may place on students, as well as the disappointment and sadness that many feel. Our staff are committed to working with students to provide guidance and support around mental health needs. 

Students continue to have access to counselors through phone visits, and can: 

  • Connect with a counselor any time by calling (216) 368-5872, regardless of the state in which they are living, for in-the-moment support. If after hours, an on-call counselor will speak with them and they receive a follow-up contact the next business day. 
  • Continue ongoing counseling visits if they live in Ohio. Due to states' licensing laws, counselors cannot provide therapy across state lines. That said, university counselors can help students connect with counseling services within their own states. 

Care anytime: 

Please refer to our Prescription Refill page for information on how to request a refill. 

We appreciate your patience as we defer routine care for your health and safety at this time. We do not know when routine immunizations and titers will resume. If you need an essential immunization (such as tetanus), please call 216.368.2450.

The Student Medical Plan provides coverage throughout the United States. Students are encouraged to see Aetna network providers whether in the Cleveland area or elsewhere. A list of providers can by accessed on the Aetna Student Health website. Students may also print an ID card and review the Plan's coverage and exclusions on this site. Aetna's customer service representatives are available to answer any questions and can be reached at 877.850.6038. Visit the Medical Plan website for more FAQs

Additional Resources

Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet