University response to coronavirus outbreak

January 31, 2020

Dear University of Oregon students, faculty, and staff:

In light of the recent global outbreak of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV), we want to provide information and guidance to the University of Oregon community about the respiratory illness—which has not affected Oregon at this time—and the university’s current response.

The coronavirus began in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are thousands of confirmed cases in China and additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. It is serious enough that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency of international concern. At this time, there are no confirmed cases in Oregon.

The health and safety of the UO community is a top priority, and we are closely monitoring updates from the department of Lane County Public Health, the Oregon Health Authority, CDC, and WHO. We have convened a team to manage the UO response and ensure the university is coordinating with local health agencies and following CDC guidelines.

To that end, we are taking the following steps to reduce risk to the UO campus:

  • Following the U.S. State Department’s decision last night to issue a Level 4 advisory not to travel to China due to the rapidly spreading outbreak, the UO will suspend all official university travel to China. If your travel plans are impacted, please reach out to for further guidance. Additionally, we strongly recommend that individuals avoid personal travel to China until the State Department travel warnings are lowered.
  • All UO study abroad programs in China are suspended until further notice. This impacts fewer than 10 students, and the UO is coordinating with those students and their respective programs to help them leave the country.
  • We are proactively communicating CDC health recommendations to students, faculty, and staff returning to campus from China, and taking precautionary steps to ensure and support the health and safety of Chinese students who will be arriving in Eugene.

While the risk of contracting the coronavirus in the U.S. is very low, there are some precautions you should always take during cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading any germs or viruses to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands. Please see CDC guidelines for proper handwashing techniques.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care.
  • Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, you are encouraged to stay informed through the following resources:

As a final note, moments like these often involve a degree of fear and uncertainty, which makes it critical that we, as a university community, hold true to our core values. First, sympathy for the victims of the virus, and for those affected by ancillary actions such as the travel ban. We have a duty to be aware and support those who are affected by this event, no matter how large or small those disruptions. Second, it is important that fear never be turned toward individuals or groups based on country of origin or other factors. We have a special responsibility to those who are far from home, who are concerned for loved ones who may be at risk, and who may be the least likely to have a local network of support. It is moments such as these in which it is incumbent for the entire UO family to remember that we are a community as a whole, and we have a duty to support each and every member of the university.


Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

Deb Beck
Executive Director, University Health Center

Dennis Galvan
Dean and Vice Provost, Division of Global Engagement