Addressing Concerns Over Potential Exposure to COVID-19

March 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

I write to follow-up on President Bacow’s recent message to the community. While we wait for additional test results, I continue to emphasize that the anonymity of these individuals is paramount. If you know their identities, please respect their privacy so they and their loved ones can focus completely on their health.

I know many of you are concerned about your potential exposure. Contact investigation and notification is overseen by the local Department of Public Health. Any persons who have had close contact with the individuals in question have been notified by the Department of Public Health in accordance with standard public health principles. If you have not been notified, then you are not deemed to have an increased risk because of exposure to these individuals.

The rapidly changing nature of this public health emergency raises questions and anxieties, and I want to again point to things you can do: 

  • If you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms, contact your primary care provider and also let HUHS know (healthservices@huhs.harvard.edu) so we can advise you. Please do not go to a medical office or emergency room without calling first.
  • Even if HUHS is not your healthcare provider:  Please notify us via email if you are tested for COVID-19 (healthservices@huhs.harvard.edu), so we can continue to assess the impact on our community.
  • It is essential that we all practice and promote good, basic hygiene: wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow; avoid close contact with those who are sick; stay home when you are sick; and take any other precautions required by your job.
  • Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Review information and resources to manage fear and anxiety.
  • For students with the Student Health Insurance Plan, we have implemented temporary benefit changes in response to COVID-19. Please review our FAQs.

At HUHS, and across the University, our primary focus is the safety and wellbeing of our community. We are mindful that the rapidly changing situation creates uncertainty for us all. We remain committed to providing information, guidance and resources to help you in this difficult time. I encourage you to regularly visit the Harvard Coronavirus webpage, and continue to take steps to ensure keep yourself and those around you safe.

Best regards,

Giang T. Nguyen, MD, MPH, MSCE, FAAFP
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services