CDC Recommendations for Flu and Novel Coronavirus Protection

January 23, 2020

As you have likely seen in the news, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness termed “2019-nCoV”. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold and was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and continues to expand. There are currently five confirmed cases in the U.S.

What you can do

We know this evolving public health situation may cause concern in our GW community, and the university is taking precautions based on the developments. Specifically, you will see the university’s public health campaign in bathrooms around campus: the stickers that say, “hand washing reflects well on you.” This message may seem like common sense, and for good reason--studies have shown that hand washing can prevent 1 in 5 respiratory infections. 

To protect against a range of illnesses, including coronavirus, the WHO recommends:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough; and
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your healthcare provider.


If you are currently traveling, have recently traveled to Wuhan, or come into contact with someone who has traveled there, you should wash your hands often and avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat). If you meet any of the above criteria and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to the Colonial Health Center, a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead (202 994-5300) and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms;
  • Avoid contact with others;
  • Not travel while sick; and
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

News reporting about emerging illnesses can be upsetting for many to hear, and your well-being is a top priority for GW. The Division of Safety and Security is committed to keeping you updated. We are working closely with our public health partners and will continue to monitor the situation, providing updates as conditions change.