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Dear Members of the University Community,

Four weeks ago, we formed a workgroup of senior administrators (from UK HealthCare, the Provost’s Office, Finance and Administration, Emergency Management, the International Center, Risk Management, Human Resources, and Communications) to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our campus community in light of the international outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This week, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that communities across the United States should prepare for potential domestic outbreaks.

First, there have been no reported cases of the virus on our campus or in Kentucky. UK HealthCare officials have worked on a case-by-case basis with members of our community who have returned from areas where there have been outbreaks of the virus. We are fortunate to have a highly regarded Division for Infectious Diseases. They have a well-established protocol for evaluating potential patients and these health professionals have worked closely with other areas of the campus to coordinate our response.

Second, our workgroup continues to meet weekly to monitor the outbreak and plan accordingly. A few weeks ago, the CDC issued a Warning Level 3 for China and the State Department designated the country a Level 4 Travel Advisory. Along with conversations with our insurance carrier, and out of an abundance of caution, those travel advisories informed our decision to prohibit University-sponsored travel to China. This week, elevated warning levels and travel advisories — from the CDC and the State Department — have been issued for South Korea. As a result, we will not sponsor University travel by students, faculty and staff to South Korea at the current time. As with China, appeals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Third, we will communicate regularly with the campus. Senior administrators and health care experts are briefing members of the media this morning about the latest developments and our planning processes. A video and a summary from that press briefing will be circulated to the campus on UKNOW. In addition, you can find the latest information about the University’s response here:

Finally, it is essential to maintain a sense of balance and perspective about this issue, while remaining vigilant about the health and safety of everyone in our community. The risk of transmission of the Coronavirus remains very low, according to health experts. However, it is essential that we all take steps to prevent illness – whether it is the flu (which has impacted many more people and can be life-threatening) or other illnesses. A few reminders:

  • If you have questions about warning levels or travel plans, contact UK’s Office of International Health, Safety, and Security within the UK International Center at 859-218-4961.
  • If you have concerns about your health, contact the University Health Service at 859-323-2778.
  • If you are feeling anxious or have concerns, students should reach out to our Counseling Center at 859-257-8701; and employees should reach out to Work-Life resources at 859-257-8763.

An important part of our continued well-being is our place as a global, diverse and welcoming community. We must care for each other — the physical health of our neighbors as well as our mental health and well-being. That is what it means to be a community of belonging.

Eli Capilouto