COVID-19 Health Advisory Message

Your well-being remains a top priority for Columbia University, and we continue to actively monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

February 27, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Columbia Community:

Your well-being remains a top priority for Columbia University, and we continue to actively monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 (novelcoronavirus). On February 25, 2020, you received an update on the situation from Provost Katznelson and Dean Goldman, with enhanced University travel restrictions.

In order to provide you with individualized assistance, instructions, and recommendations, Columbia University requests that all affiliates currently in, have returned from, or transited through China (including Hong Kong), Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea in the past 14 days, or have had direct close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, fill out a secure and confidential registration form.

As a reminder, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms may be similar to the flu or the common cold. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions. We are seeing many cases of influenza and other common respiratory illnesses in our students, faculty and staff. Please remember the steps we take every day to help prevent any respiratory illness: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.

If you have traveled recently or have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and are experiencing the above symptoms please seek medical attention right away. Before you got to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and let them know of your recent travel and symptoms. Wear a mask if you need to leave your home when you are sick.

  • Columbia students, please reach out to your campus medical service: Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400).
  • Faculty and staff, please reach out to your primary care provider.

Currently, there are no cases in New York or among Columbia affiliates and we have made no changes to classes, activities, operations and events on our campuses. We have published updated FAQs on the Columbia Preparedness site and will continue to provide updates via the site as new information becomes available.

Please use these additional resources for more information:

Columbia Preparedness

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Situation Summary

World Health Organization (WHO) Information about Coronavirus

NYC Department of Health Information About Coronavirus


With care for our community,

Melanie Bernitz, MD, MPH
Associate Vice President & Medical Director, Columbia Health
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine)