Message From President Underwood

March 10, 2020

The University continues to monitor developments related to the spread of the newest strain of coronavirus, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies. Internally, we have assembled a team that includes leading infectious disease experts in our School of Medicine to advise the administration on the University’s response.

Our current level of health risk remains low and we have no confirmed cases on any of Mercer’s campuses. However, we expect at some point in the coming weeks, months or years that we will have members of our community develop symptoms associated with this new strain of coronavirus. I am confident that Mercer is well-positioned to care for these individuals, as we do for members of our community with other infectious diseases such as the flu, while maintaining a safe campus environment, including establishing isolation areas where affected individuals can be treated, housed, monitored and provided nutrition.

If you are a student on any of Mercer’s campuses and you develop a cough or shortness of breath accompanied by a fever, immediately contact the Student Health Center at (478) 301-7425. That number is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A staff member of Mercer Medicine, which employs highly trained health care professionals including physicians associated with the School of Medicine, will ensure that you receive immediate, caring, and professional assistance.

Faculty have been asked to accommodate students who miss classes or labs due to illness to ensure they do not fall behind in their coursework, including arranging for students to receive class notes for any missed sessions.

Members of the Mercer community are reminded of the following steps that should be taken to help prevent the spread of any infectious disease including COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipes. Mercer custodial staff are regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in public areas.
  • Practice social distancing (avoid shaking hands, maintain a 6-foot distance from individuals who are symptomatic).
  • If you are a faculty or staff member and are sick, please stay at home.
  • Practice other good health habits, including getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.

Obviously, this is an evolving situation and we will communicate with the University community as warranted to inform you of new developments and any impacts to Mercer operations.

A Mercer hallmark is the care we show for one another. I believe that practice will serve us well in the coming days and weeks.