March 29, 2020

Dear Amherst Students, Faculty, Staff, and Families,

I’m writing to keep you apprised of our ongoing effort to be aware of and track any member of our community who may be experiencing any symptoms that could be related to COVID-19. At this time, we have not been advised of any presumptive or confirmed cases in our College  community. (A “presumptive” case is one that has been tested and confirmed by the state. A “confirmed” case is one  that has been tested and confirmed by the CDC.) We remain in close consultation with the Amherst Department of Public Health and share information with them about reports and investigations.

We have been contacted by several individuals in the community recently who are experiencing one or some of the symptoms associated with the virus. In every reported case, we have worked with supervisors, staff, and students to have an evaluation conducted through their primary medical care provider. In reports that are more probable, we have interviewed the affected person, determined their significant contact with any other members of our community, and talked to each of those contacts. If you have not been contacted, it means that you have not been identified as a contact by anyone who has reported symptoms to us. At this time, none of those individuals or contacts has a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19. We, of course, will inform you if there are any such cases in the community. We continue to encourage anyone with medical concerns to contact their primary medical care provider.

The Baker-Polito Administration launched a useful online resource in partnership with Buoy Health for residents to check their symptoms and connect with the next appropriate health care resource. This tool does not replace emergency medical care, but it may be used as a support for residents during the COVID-19 outbreak to connect them with appropriate health care resources if they display coronavirus symptoms. Buoy Health’s online 24/7 tool is free for Massachusetts residents and uses current COVID-19 guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

I again emphasize the need for all of us to follow CDC directives and observe preventive steps, including:

  • Stay home except to pick up medicine and groceries. We can only stop the spread of this virus if everyone in our community practices responsible social distancing. When in a public space, put a distance of six feet between yourself and others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (and immediately when you return home from a public place such as the grocery store).
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that many people come in contact with. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards,   toilets, faucets, and sinks. Avoid touching high-contact surfaces in public.
  • If you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, isolate yourself and reach out to your primary medical care provider 

For students on campus, if you develop a fever or cough, please immediately call Keefe Health Center at (413) 542-2267. The service includes on-call health professionals if you call outside of normal business hours. Faculty, staff, and students not living on campus who develop symptoms should call their own healthcare providers directly. 

The CDC website is a recommended source for reliable information. If you have questions about COVID-19 and Amherst College, please refer to the College’s COVID-19 webpage for answers to frequently asked questions and latest announcements. You can also reach out via email: covid19-info@amherst.edu. 

As time goes on, it seems likely that we will learn of a presumptive or confirmed case within our College community, on campus or off. Should that first case occur, we will notify the community immediately via email, the COVID-19 Update email and the Daily Mammoth, and will post that information on the COVID-19 website while maintaining the privacy of the individual. Most subsequent cases, should they occur, will be communicated via the COVID-19 Update, the Daily Mammoth and the COVID-19 website. Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other and practice the measures that will inhibit the spread of the virus.


Sincerely,

John Carter
Police Chief/Director of Public Safety