Western Illinois University has first confirmed COVID-19 case

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MACOMB, Ill. (WMBD) — Western Illinois University announced Thursday that a student living off-campus is its first confirmed COVID-19 case.

In a letter to students, Western Illinois University Interim President Martin Abraham said the student is now self-isolating and that the university is working with the McDonough County Health Department to contact those who may have been in contact with the individual.

The full letter to students can be read bellow:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The welfare and safety of our University community during this time is our primary concern. We have safety protocols in place, including daily temperature taking for anyone coming to campus, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in our residence halls and dining center, adhering to social distancing measures and following the Stay at Home order in place.

I am writing today to confirm that a Western Illinois University student who has been residing off campus has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the McDonough County Health Department. University officials are working with the health department and other public health staff regarding contact tracing and other requirements. Public health authorities are identifying those who may have come in close contact with the individual.

The individual is currently in self-isolation and will not be able to return to their normal activities or to the WIU campus until authorized by public health authorities. Federal health privacy laws prohibit sharing any other information about individuals.

Because this is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 associated with WIU, I wanted to keep our University community apprised. As testing continues to increase and there are more positive cases reported within our county, we anticipate additional cases could affect our University. In the future, additional cases related to Western will be posted on wiu.edu/coronavirus, and county health officials will directly contact anyone who might have been exposed.

I also want to take this opportunity to remind our community of some important information regarding COVID-19. The following recommended practices must be followed, not only to ensure your own well-being, but the well-being of others:

• Follow government mandates around travel, work, and leaving your home. If you do leave your home, you must wear a mask/face covering when in public spaces when social distancing is not an option, as required per Gov. Pritzker’s May 1 Stay at Home Order.

• Engage in social distancing (minimum 6 feet). Remain home as much as possible.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Wash your hands frequently 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 face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Watch for cough, troubled breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.

• Monitor temperature for a fever above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).

Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms (fever over 100.4 F, cough and shortness of breath) should self-isolate. According to medical professionals, most people who contract Coronavirus will be able to shelter in place at home, and recover uneventfully without hospitalization. This is especially true of traditional college age patients without underlying health conditions. Most college-age individuals with coronavirus can expect to have little to no symptoms, or possibly develop symptoms similar to a bad cold or a case of influenza. If you develop severe symptoms such as struggling to breathe, blue lips, passing out or confusion, please seek immediate medical care.

If a person in the McDonough County region is experiencing symptoms, they should call the McDonough District Hospital (MDH) nurse triage hotline at (309) 836-1715 or their primary care provider. The nurse triage hotline will operate from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The drive-thru screening station at MDH is available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. WIU students who are living on campus or in the community can call Beu Health Center, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at (309) 298-1888. Individuals should not walk into Beu or any local health care provider or hospital without first calling.

Our thoughts are with our student, as well as others who are going through this illness or who have loved ones and friends affected. Please continue to practice the measures in place to protect yourselves and others. We will be monitoring daily updated guidance and information. This is not a time to panic. It is; however, a time to be attentive, flexible, serious, and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a community to care for ourselves and for one another.

Take care,

Interim President Martin Abraham

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