Last Updated: 06-08-2020 3:26 p.m.
The safety of EVMS faculty, staff and students is our highest priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated everyone’s safety concerns and need for assurances that EVMS is taking reasonable steps to protect the faculty, staff and students. Safety is, of course, a shared responsibility between individuals and the institution.
EVMS’ plan to address safety is based on six components: self-monitoring of personal health status; wearing clean masks; wearing other protective gear (e.g., goggles, lab coats, gloves) as necessary; regular handwashing and use of sanitizers; maintaining appropriate social distance (at least six feet); and using effective housekeeping protocols.
The components related to masks, other protective gear, social distance and housekeeping protocols are addressed in the ramp-up plans for students, research, faculty and staff, as well as the EVMS Universal masking, hand hygiene and PPE recommendations, and the EVMS Housekeeping Protocols by Mission—COVID-19. These documents that are included in the EVMS Ramp Up portion of the EVMS COVID-19 website.
The guidelines for self-monitoring remain as straightforward as the Screening Survey:
- If you feel sick, you should stay home.
- If you continue to feel sick, you should consult your medical provider and notify your supervisor.
- If you have a prolonged fever or have symptoms of a lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath), loss of sense of taste or smell, sore throat, or other symptoms (muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, runny nose, fatigue) you should consult your medical provider and notify your supervisor.
EVMS is not testing for COVID-19 infections, antibodies or antigens or conducting temperature screenings of faculty/ staff/students as they return for work. There are several reasons for this approach. First, unlike the emergency room, the ICU, or busy patient care settings, research labs are a relatively lower risk environment.
Second, testing supplies continue to be limited and only provide information about the status of infection for one time period. That status could change in an hour, a day, or a month after the test and so is not useful on an ongoing basis.
Third, temperature readings in and of themselves are not a reliable indicator of illness. Our approach relies on self-identification of any number of symptoms that, taken together, might indicate illness.
Fourth, self-monitoring of illness, wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distance have been proven effective. Therefore, based on guidance from the CDC and the EVMS Medical Group, EVMS has chosen to employ an approach that is supported by the data.