The University Health Center is an integral part of the University of Oregon’s response to the novel coronavirus. Clinical staff members are equipped to screen for and respond to potential COVID-19 cases. We have implemented protocols for screening patients with viral symptoms and have stepped up the already rigorous infection prevention program in the building. We work in close alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and Lane Country Public Health to stay abreast of the latest news, best practices, and guidelines.
About the Novel Coronavirus
Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a mild to severe respiratory/viral illness caused by the novel coronavirus named “SARS-CoV-2.” While there are many existing coronaviruses, this particular virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, it has spread around the world. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and many others, and may appear 2–14 days after exposure. Information suggests that everyone is equally likely to become infected, but older people and those with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.
“Things feel different in the world right now, but what hasn’t changed is that we are a community. In these uncertain times, we want to let you know we are still here, and we will get through this together.”
—Executive Director Deb Beck
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that people with COVID-19 have a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from being asymptomatic, or having mild symptoms to severe illness.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms, and CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
What to Do if You're Sick
There are many illnesses that cause the symptoms of COVID-19. Because of this, it can be hard to know when to seek care.
The University Health Center encourages any student who may be concerned that they have any of the symptoms above, or if they are experiencing any unusual symptoms, to call the University Health Center at 541-346-2770 before visiting. Our clinical team members will assess the student’s illness, provide care instructions, and inform students what to expect once they arrive, if a visit to the University Health Center is deemed necessary.
If You Start Feeling Sick
- Stay home to avoid infecting other people. If you must be around other people, try to stay six feet away from them and wear a mask or cloth face covering.
- Call first. Call the University Health Center at 541-346-2770 before coming in. Our clinical staff will assess the student's illness, provide care instructions, and inform students what to expect once they arrive, if a visit to the University Health Center is deemed necessary, to see about getting tested.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use the crook of your elbow.
- Do not go to class. Be sure to notify your instructor, however, that you are sick and find out what you need to do to keep up with your classwork.
- Monitor your symptoms, including taking your temperature when you are feeling sick. A fever is defined as any temperature above 100°F or 37.8°C.
- If your symptoms are mild (runny nose, sinus congestion, low grade sore throat, low grade body aches, intermittent cough but otherwise OK) you do not need to seek medical advice.
- If your symptoms are significant or start to worsen (spiking fevers, worsening cough, shortness of breath) call the health center. You can call us 24 hours a day and we can help you work through what to do. If you need to come in, our hours are available on our homepage.
Our understanding of both the virus itself and the accuracy of testing for the virus is still emerging. There are two types of tests that are offered at the University Health Center: one tests for current infection (nasopharyngeal swab) and one tests for past infection (blood antibody test). Both tests have false positive and false negative rates. Your clinician wil help you sort out whether testing is indicated given your symptoms or situation.
The nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for the RNA Quantitative Real-Time RT polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is the test of choice for patients who are actively ill with COVID-19-like illness. Results for this test usually take 24-72 hours. For more information about PCR testing, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/lab-testing-faqs.html
Patients who have no symptoms and want to know if they are currently infectious also may get a NP swab for PCR testing after consulting with their health provider. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) does not recommend testing of individuals without symptoms unless they are in certain risk groups, and therefore insurance may not cover the cost of testing if an individual does not meet these requirements. For more information see the OHA Guidance for Clinicians Regarding COVID-19 testing: https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/le2267.pdf
The only test currently available to assess if a patient has had COVID-19 in the past is the blood antibody test. The antibody test detects antibodies the body makes as a response to being exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). This test, however, has its limitations. The antibody test is unlikely to be positive until several days to weeks into infection. Some people take longer than three weeks to develop antibodies, and some people may not develop antibodies at all. UHC providers can help if travel, employment, or visitation requires this test. Results from antibody testing should not be used to diagnose or exclude SARS-CoV-2 infection or to inform infection status. For further information go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/lab-testing-faqs.html
Take Charge of Your Health
It’s important that students be active participants in their health. These everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Close contact means within six feet of a sick person. If you must be around a sick person, put on a mask to prevent touching your nose and mouth until you can wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is the way many viruses (including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) enter your body and cause infection.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe. The Environmental Protection Agency has published a list of cleaning products for use against the novel coronavirus.
- Get educated. It is important that you get accurate information from trusted sources, as misinformation can easily spread when a community is under stress. The Health Center is working to provide trusted information on questions UO students may have about coronavirus and COVID-19. There is valuable information on how to stay healthy and what to do if you feel ill. Visit the UO’s main coronavirus site for information on the university's response, including academics and travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon Health Authority coronavirus websites both publish regular updates on the national and statewide preparation and response.
Our Screening and Prevention Procedures
Like the entire UO campus, the University Health Center has enacted new policies and procedures to respond to concerns about COVID-19.
We have created a pre-screening station in the main lobby of UHC for temperature and symptom checks. Patients who are sick are separated from well patients. All individuals entering the building will be required to wear masks or cloth face coverings. Sick patients will be required to wear surgical or procedure masks.
In addition to our standard infected prevention precautions, our greeters and staff members are wearing masks as indicated for health professionals, and we are disinfecting surfaces such as doors, elevators, chairs, and tables in the lobby, waiting room, and throughout the clinics on an increased schedule throughout the day. Exam rooms are disinfected after every patient use. The entire University Health Center is thoroughly cleaned each evening.
Signs will indicate where individuals can stand in line to ensure physical distancing, and our electronic health record has the capability to notify patients when UHC is ready for them so patients do not need to wait inside the health center. Signs will guide students as to which seating is available.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
The abundance of news and updates about COVID-19 is making some people feel anxious. The American Psychological Association has put together some tips to manage anxiety, put news reports in perspective, and maintain a positive outlook. If you’re having trouble managing your concerns on your own, please reach out for help. UO students in Eugene are encouraged to contact the University Counseling Center or the Duck Nest; Portland students can get support at the Portland State University Center for Student Health and Counseling.
Stigma, Bias, and Harassment
Viruses don’t discriminate: COVID-19 is not associated with any race, ethnicity, or nationality. It is vital that our community work to combat discrimination based on racial bias or appearances and to correct misinformation on the spot. Make sure you only share accurate, unbiased information, and speak up when you hear, see, or read misinformation or harassment. Incidents of bias or harassment on campus can be reported to the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance or Bias Education and Response Team.