Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the risk to the American public of becoming infected with this novel coronavirus is currently low. Because this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, including any changes in the risk assessment.

How does it spread?

It is currently believed that it spreads like other respiratory viruses -- by people with the infection coughing and sneezing. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands. You can help prevent the spread by doing the following:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds or more, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you are a student and develop symptoms— fever, cough, shortness of breath—call the Simmons Health Services Center at 617-521-1020. If you are a faculty or staff member, contact your healthcare provider. We also ask that anyone returning from a country with a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Notice check in with the Simmons Health Center, even if you are not feeling symptomatic.

Where do I go to get tested?

Currently, the Boston hospitals have very limited capacity for testing, but are working to expand. Only healthcare providers can request a test for the virus that causes COVID-19. Approval for testing is based on symptoms and on risk factors such as your travel history or exposure to individuals known to have the disease. Walk-in testing is not available at any health care facility in the region, including the Simmons Health Center or the hospitals in the Longwood Medical Area.

Should I wear a mask?

Public health agencies currently do not recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Additionally, scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick.  It’s most important for people who are sick to wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends staying home and away from others if you are sick. However, keep in mind that if we see our Simmons community members wearing a mask we should not assume that they have been exposed to coronavirus or any other illness (coronavirus is not currently present in our community). Because mask use is customary in some cultures, it’s not appropriate to make assumptions about why someone is wearing a mask or to stigmatize or discriminate against people who choose to wear masks.

I feel anxious about the coronavirus. What can I do?

If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to students through the Simmons Student Health Center. For faculty and staff, please get in touch with our Employee Assistance Program, AllOne Health. If you haven’t yet signed up, use the code simmons, provide your email, and create a username. 

What is Simmons doing to keep the campus clean and reduce the risk of the virus spreading?

  • Increasing the frequency of disinfecting public bathrooms and common spaces on both the academic and residential campuses. The University’s custodial cleaning program is using an EPA-registered disinfectant to clean touchpoints, public and common area restrooms and kitchens.  We have also purchased two Protexus/Victory Electrostatic Sprayers – one for each campus. These sprayers use an innovative technology to eliminate 99.99% of bacteria and are particularly effective on viruses such as the Coronavirus.  The cleaning crews will utilize the sprayers as an extra layer of disinfection.
  • Antimicrobial wipes will be placed in every residence hall lounge, in the lobby of the Holmes Sports Center and equipment rooms. Additional Purell dispensers have also been distributed to common areas on the residence campus.  Germicidal wipes have been placed in the library common areas as well as additional Purell dispensers in each building on the academic campus.
  • Encouraging students to utilize antimicrobial wipes, as needed, to disinfect their personal spaces on campus.