Health Guidance


People at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 should follow the latest recommendations from the CDC. Everyone should follow these preventive measures:

Person lathering soap while washing hands with running water

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Woman wearing a long sleeved white and burgundy t-shirt sneezes into the bend of her arm while holding a tissue in her hand

Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm or elbow, or cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Exterior of suburban home with white picketed fence painted white, burgundy and green sits underneath trees draped in golden leaves.  Lawn is littered with gold leaves having fallen from trees.

Stay home when you are sick, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Person holds smartphone in a napkin while cleaning on top of a wooden desk while a black keyboard and mouse sits in the background

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

home icon
Are there any special cleaning protocols?

No. Standard cleaning with common household disinfectants (such as Clorox ®wipes) should be sufficient.

As is recommended each year during cold and flu season, be sure to clean high-touch areas (e.g., doorknobs, telephones, remote controls, and bathroom surfaces) regularly.

user-circle icon
Should we be using masks?

In addition to maintaining 6-feet physical distancing, the CDC now recommends that individuals who need to leave home for essential reasons (to obtain food or medicine, to go to work, etc.) cover their mouth and nose with a cloth while in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to sustain. It is important to wash these cloth face coverings (scarves, bandanas, old T-shirts, etc.) when you return home. The U.S. Surgeon General has a video on how to make a cloth face cover.

We recognize that individuals wearing face coverings have been discriminated against and treated unfairly. The University condemns such behavior and calls upon everyone to understand and respect the CDC’s face covering recommendation in support of public health.  

At this time, surgical masks and N-95 respirators are primarily recommended for healthcare workers and other medical responders. Columbia is, however, making masks available to some essential workers. We ask that all students who remain on campus use appropriate face coverings when going outside, including trips to Columbia Dining (John Jay), grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. Should this guidance change, the University will adjust protocols.

user-md icon
Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.

Health Advisories

May 22, 2020

Delayed Response to Rebound Would Cost Lives

New projections from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health find that delays in reimplementing social distancing following a relaxation of control measures could result in a stronger rebound of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

May 20, 2020

Lowering Testosterone May Reduce Severity of COVID-19

Based on this new study from researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, a clinical trial to test the effect of reducing testosterone in COVID-19 patients is set to begin at three Veterans Affairs hospitals in New York City, Los Angeles, and the Seattle region.