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COVID-19 Info

About COVID-19

In response to the outbreak of a 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Mount St. Mary’s University is continuing to take proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Please refer to our COVID-19 Dashboard for current data.

Please refer to the resources and frequently asked questions below for additional information to best guide your concerns:

FAQs: COVID-19 Compliance

1. What policies/guidelines has Mount St. Mary’s University developed in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic?

Every member of the Mount community will be expected to fully comply with the policies, protocols and guidelines included in the Return to Campus Plan in order to reduce the health risk to students and employees.

By implementing multiple layers of protection, we achieve the best possible protection. The five key Layers of Protection that everyone in the Mount community can impact are:

  • Face Coverings – must be worn when in the presence of others.
  • Physical Distancing – stay at least 6’ from others at all times; stay out of crowded places; and obey posted room occupancy limits.
  • Handwashing – wash hands often for at least 20 seconds or when not readily available, hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Self-Quarantine – if symptomatic, or you were in close contact with someone who tested posted for COVID-19 (closer than 6’ for 15 minutes or longer) stay home or in your resident room; notify HR (if employee) or Dean of Students (if student) immediately if tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Limiting Exposure – Travel outside of US is banned; supervisors must approve overnight business travel; postpone or limit business travel, if possible; comply with other reporting/testing protocols as designated by the University.

2. What should I do if I experience difficulties wearing a face mask (cloth or disposable) because of a pre-existing medical condition?

Employees experiencing difficulties wearing a face mask may seek an accommodation because of a pre-existing medical condition through the Office of Human Resources. In these circumstances, a face shield may be provided. Students may seek the same support through the Dean of Students Office.

3. What should I do if I notice a member of the Mount community not observing a University policy / protocol?

There have been many changes and new procedures implemented in a relatively short period of time. Everyone is adjusting to a new normal.

Therefore, the university will engage in a variety of compliance approaches:

Pre-Emptive

The University has designated students and others across campus to monitor public spaces to help set the tone for physical distancing, wearing of face coverings, etc.

Mitigation

Step One: The best way to encourage employees, students and visitors to follow the Mount’s policies/guidelines is by setting the example and being consistent. Please take the Mount Safety Pledge seriously.

Step Two: If someone forgets one of the policies/guidelines, politely remind them. Conversely, if you forgot, do not be offended when someone reminds you.

Tip: Approach the person by saying, “I would feel more comfortable if…you wore your face covering in this public space properly by placing it over your nose, etc.”

Step Three: If you are not comfortable doing this, or this turns out to be ineffective, contact HR or your supervisor (if employee) or the Dean of Students (if student) to address the situation.

Step Four: If you are not comfortable turning to HR or your supervisor, employees and students may use the anonymous compliance reporting program, EthicsPoint, to report a violation. Reports can be filed under the Category: Risk and Safety Matters – Environmental and Safety Matters.

Report a Violation

Step Five: Violations (e.g., blatant disregard for infection prevention measures) may result in the immediate revocation of building access privileges, disciplinary action, and/or other interventions.

4. Are there gathering size limits for social activities?

According to Maryland Department of Health (Advisory of 17 December 2020, 12.17.2020 MDH Public COVID-19 Advisory.pdf), we are all directed to avoid “social gatherings” of more than 10 people which includes but is not limited to parties, cookouts, receptions, and celebrations.

For “normal business operations” which would include classes, academic activities, athletics, co-curricular activities, meetings, assemblies, and other business activities, the indoor gathering size limit is 25 (Frederick County Board of Health,13 December 2020 (REGULATION NO. BOH 02-2020). Exceptions to this rule would be facilities that are specifically identified in other orders like athletic facilities, fitness centers, and religious facilities.

5. Is the EnviroShield disinfectant application safe for employees/students with allergies and/or other sensitivity concerns? How does it work? Are there any special cleaning concerns?

The long-term disinfectant, Enviroshield Endure (SD90+), is an organosilane (silicon based chemical). It is the latter that polymerizes to the surfaces and remains on surfaces up to 180 days (in some claims they mention up to a year). Once applied it becomes safe for reoccupancy in about an hour. As opposed to most disinfectants, the method of microbial kill for SD90+ is mechanical, not chemical. The silicon creates at a molecular level a crystalline structure that effectively disrupts cell walls (protein or lipid based).

The manufacturer has stated that “Clorox wipes” and the like will not harm the product or reduce its efficacy.

6. What happens if an individual exhibits aggressive behavior towards members of the Mount community?

Forms of aggression go directly against Mount St. Mary’s University’s Code of Ethical Behavior. There is zero tolerance for all forms of aggression. Incidents may result in removal from University facilities and prosecution.

Examples of Aggressive Behavior

  • Verbal harassment, threats or abusive language.
  • Gestures.
  • Racist or derogatory comments directed at others.
  • Sexual language directed at others.
  • Failure to respond to staff instructions. This includes failure to comply with screening or to appropriately wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Physical assault.

If at any time you have any security concerns, please contact the Department of Public Safety at Ext. 5357.

FAQs: COVID-19 Incident Plan

Mount St. Mary’s University has developed an Incident Plan to include care instructions for the affected individual, safe-to-return instructions, safety protocols and a communication strategy for numerous situations during this global pandemic. The University’s Safe Teams have worked diligently to establish standard procedures and protocols based on the latest CDC guidance while keeping our top priority, the health and safety of our community, at the heart of our planning efforts.

COVID-19 Incident Plan Process Tree

Last revised 12-18-20 based on CDC Guidance in cooperation with the Frederick County Health Department and Frederick Health Systems.

1. I am sick and worried that I may have COVID-19, what should I do?

Do not come to work or go to classes. (If you are at work, leave immediately.) If you are concerned that you may have contracted COVID-19, seek medical advice by using a tele-health service, calling your healthcare provider, or calling the Health Center. They will conduct a symptom scan by phone and provide guidance on next steps. If you are an employee, contact Human Resources, if you are a student, contact the Dean of Students1.

These recommendations remain true if you are fully vaccinated and have COVID-19 symptoms. Although the risk that fully vaccinated individuals could become infected with COVID-19 is low, any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate themselves and be evaluated by a healthcare professional. The symptomatic fully vaccinated person should inform their healthcare provider of their vaccination status.

1The Dean of Students will have oversight for all traditional undergraduate students (resident or commuter); however, the Rector of the Seminary shall have oversight for all seminarians and the Associate Provost for the Division of Graduate, Professional and Continuing and Education shall have oversight for all graduate and accelerated students.

2. What do I do if I’m on campus and come in contact with someone who appears to be sick?

  • If the individual is an employee contact Human Resources, if they are a student contact the Dean of Students.
  • The sick individual should isolate themselves in their office, car or outside alone, and call their healthcare provider or the Health Center for further phone evaluation and decisions about next steps.

3. What will happen if an individual becomes ill at work or during class?

If an individual becomes ill while at work or during class, they should be directed to go home immediately (if an employee) or to go to the Health Center (if a student), even if their symptoms are mild.

In addition, supervisors and/or faculty members may address a particular situation if an individual may be exhibiting symptoms so as to ascertain whether or not the individual should be directed to go home or seek care from the Health Center. Notification should be made immediately to Human Resources in the event of an employee, or the Dean of Students in the case of a student.

4. What is the definition of close contact?

Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

For more information, please visit the CDC's Glossary of Key Terms.

5. If an individual has come into close contact with an individual who came into close contact with someone rumored to be positive for COVID-19, what should I do?

The CDC does not recommend self-quarantine; rather, the individual should continue to self-monitor for symptoms. Concerned individuals can also seek out COVID-19 testing.

6. How are quarantine and isolation different?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their healthcare provider.

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).

7. What are the quarantine rules for individuals who had close contact to a COVID-19 positive individual?

Under CDC guidelines, individuals who have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual must self-quarantine (see care instructions above for quarantine). However, the length of the quarantine may differ depending upon the proximity of the close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual.

Will not have further close contact – Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported. OR Quarantine can end after Day 7 IF a diagnostic specimen test is collected no sooner than Day 5 (average incubation period) and is negative and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported.

Live with person but can avoid further close contact – Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported. OR Quarantine can end after Day 7 IF a diagnostic specimen test is collected no sooner than Day 5 (average incubation period) and is negative and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported.

Under quarantine and had additional close contact with COVID-19 positive individual – Restart quarantine from the last day you had close contact with anyone in your house/room who has COVID. Anytime a new household/roommate gets sick with COVID and you had close contact, you will need to restart quarantine.

Live with person and cannot avoid continued close contact – Avoid contact to the extent possible. Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported. OR Quarantine can end after Day 7 IF a diagnostic specimen test is collected no sooner than Day 5 (average incubation period) and is negative and IF NO SYMPTOMS have been reported.

8. If someone had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, can they just get a test and go back to work instead of being in quarantine for 14 days?

No. People infected with COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms. The individual must finish the full 14 days of quarantine.

9. If an individual has a “suspected” (but unconfirmed) case of COVID-19, what will the university do?

  • Encourage the individual to be tested for COVID-19. Until results are available, the individual must self-isolate. The individual must remain in self-isolation for 14 days after symptoms started AND 24 hours after fever has resolved AND symptoms improved.
  • The university will initiate deep cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • Begin identifying individuals with whom the suspected individual may have had close contact. Close contact means someone was closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes from an individual who is positive for COVID-19. It does not matter if the individuals were wearing face coverings.
  • If the individual ends up testing positive, the exposed individuals identified as close contacts must self-quarantine for 14 days following the close contact.

10. If someone has just tested positive for COVID-19, what will the university do?

  • Instruct the positive individual to stay home and self-isolate if an employee or if a residential student, the university will arrange for self-isolation.
    • The individual should not return to work/classes for at least 10 days after symptoms first started AND 24 hours after fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medicines AND symptoms have vastly improved.
    • The university will meet its obligation to notify the Mount community.
    • IMPORTANT: It is against the law to identify this individual by name. The university will not disclose to other staff/students or third parties the name or other personal or health information of the individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The university will arrange to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and other elements of the environment of the individual, along with frequently touched surfaces and objects such as doorknobs/push bars, elevator buttons, restroom doors, etc., use EPA-approved disinfectants and use according to label instructions.
  • Within 24 hours of learning that an individual has tested positive for COVID-19, the university will notify the Frederick County Department of Public Health.
  • Members of the Mount St. Mary’s community are required to cooperate with contact tracing efforts, including notification of potential contacts, while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations.

11. If someone has been identified as a close contact and was diagnosed with COVID-19 by a positive RT-PCR test within the last 90 days, will I still need to quarantine?

Those with no current symptoms of COVID-19 do not have to quarantine, and retesting is not recommended;

Those with symptoms, should begin self-isolation immediately for 10 days after symptom onset and consult with a medical provider to determine if they may have been re-infected with COVID-19 or if symptoms are caused by another illness.

12. Does a full vaccinated individual with no COVID-like symptoms need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure?

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as their risk of infection is low. Fully vaccinated people who do not quarantine should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves and follow the guidance above for fully vaccinated individuals with COVID-19 symptoms.

13. Does a full vaccinated residential student with no COVID-like symptoms need to quarantine or be tested following an exposure?

Fully vaccinated residential students should continue to quarantine for 14 days and be tested following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. This is because residential settings may face a higher risk of transmission, and challenges in maintaining recommended physical distancing.

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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II)

As of March 24, 2021

Under section 314(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Mount St. Mary’s University (the Mount) was allocated $2,584,181 from HEERF II. At least $839,010 of the funds received under Section 314(a)(1) are to be used as supplemental aid for students. The Department of Education automatically awarded the supplemental funds to eligible institutions that previously received a section 18004 (a)(1) Student Aid Portion or Institutional Portion award under the CARES Act. Under Section 314 (c)(3) of the CRRSAA, the funds are to be provided to assist eligible students who incurred expenses related to their “cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.”

Eligibility Criteria

Mount St. Mary’s University determined eligibility as students who are eligible under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting. The Mount estimates 1,968 students meet this eligibility criteria.

Supplemental aid from HEERF II of $839,500 is anticipated to be distributed via check the week of April 19, 2021, unless the student has consented to apply those funds to their outstanding account balance.

Distribution

To be considered for the supplemental aid, eligible undergraduate students had to have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) which has been processed as of February 26, 2021 and enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours for the Spring 2021 semester, by February 12, 2021. To prioritize students with the most need, the Mount awarded undergraduate students who were eligible to receive Pell Grant funds $875. Eligible undergraduate students who did not receive a Pell Grant but had an expected family contribution (EFC) less than $50,000 on their FAFSA were awarded $500. Eligible adult accelerated undergraduate students who were eligible to receive Pell Grant funds were awarded $750. Eligible adult accelerated undergraduate students, who did not receive a Pell Grant with an EFC of less than $50,000 were awarded $375.

A total of 1,308 eligible undergraduate students have been awarded HEERF II supplemental student aid totaling $839,500.

Do I need to complete a FAFSA to receive supplemental student aid from HEERF II?

Mount St. Mary’s University (the Mount) required a 2020-21 FAFSA to have been filed and processed as of February 26, 2021.

Are the supplemental student aid funds from HEERF II taxable?

Please contact your tax consultant regarding the taxability of the funds.

Do I have to repay the supplemental student aid from HEERF II that I will receive from the Mount?

No. The funds that will be provided by the HEERF II are grants, so they do not need to be repaid.

What can I spend the money on? Will I need to show receipts?

The money you will be receiving is yours. You do not need to show receipts. The funds will be provided to assist eligible students who incurred expenses related to their cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.

Why didn’t I receive supplemental student aid from HEERF II?

In order to receive funding under HEERF II you must:

  • Have filed a 2020-21 FAFSA which has been processed as of February 26, 2021.
  • Be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.*
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid Social Security Number.
  • Be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours in an undergraduate program for spring 2021 semester, by February 12, 2021, at the Mount.
  • Meet minimum satisfactory academic progress standards.
  • Have an expected family contribution of less than $50,000.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • Not have federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale.

*The Mount estimates 1,968 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive HEERF II Grants to students under section 314(a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA).

I was enrolled exclusively in online classes. Do I qualify for supplemental student aid from HEERF II?

You are eligible for supplemental student aid from HEERF II if you were enrolled exclusively in an online program on February 12, 2021.

How do I get additional information on the eligibility and/or awarding of the supplemental student aid from HEERF II?

For questions on the eligibility and/or awarding of the supplemental student aid from HEERF II please email mountcovidaid@msmary.edu or call Renee Ginn at 301-447-5382.

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CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students

As of October 9, 2020

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Mount St. Mary’s University (the Mount) was allocated $1,678,020. At least 50% of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) were to be used as emergency aid for students. Upon submission of the Funding and Certification and Agreement, signed on April 21, 2020, the CARES Act provided the Mount with $839,010 in funds to be distributed to students as Emergency Financial Aid Grants. The funds were provided to assist eligible students who incurred “expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child-care expenses.” The October 9, 2020 report below is also provided as a PDF file as are the September 10, 2020 report, July 6, 2020, report  and May 22, 2020 report. In addition, Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Reporting, dated October 29, 2020, is provided as a PDF file.

Eligibility criteria

Only students who are or could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), may receive emergency financial aid grants. The criteria to participate in programs under Section 484 of the HEA include but are not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen; a valid Social Security number; registration with Selective Service (if the student is male); and a high school diploma, GED, or completion of high school in an approved homeschool setting. The Mount estimates 1,462 students meet this eligibility criteria.

Distribution process

In order to distribute funds to students with the highest need as quickly as possible, the Mount awarded CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants in two phases. Emergency Financial Aid Grants awarded in Phase 1 of $433,565 were mailed to students on or before Friday, May 22, 2020. Emergency Financial Aid Grants awarded in Phase 2 of $405,680 were distributed via check on September 10, 2020.

Phase 1 Distribution

To be considered for an award, eligible students had to have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) and enrolled in classes for the spring 2020 semester.

Additionally, the student must have been enrolled in classes that did not take place exclusively online prior to March 13, 2020 and meet other defined criteria. To prioritize students with the most need, the Mount awarded undergraduate Pell Grant recipients $600. Undergraduate students who did not receive a Pell Grant but had an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) less than $50,000 on their FAFSA were awarded $245. Adult accelerated undergraduate Pell Grant recipients were awarded $150 and adult accelerated undergraduate students enrolled in at least 6 credit hours who did not receive a Pell Grant with an EFC of less than $10,000 were awarded $50.

Additionally, eligible students who submitted an Application for Assistance online on or before April 30 were awarded $150 in additional funding. One eligible student who submitted an Application for Assistance was deemed to be of extreme high need and received an award of $3,200.

A total of 1,192 eligible students have been awarded CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants totaling $433,565 in the phase 1 distribution.

Phase 2 Distribution

To be considered for an award for the Phase 2 distribution, eligible students had to have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) for 2019-2020 no later than June 30, 2020 and enrolled in classes for the spring and fall 2020 semesters as of August 26, 2020. Additionally, the student must have been enrolled in classes that did not take place exclusively online prior to March 13, 2020 and meet other defined criteria. To prioritize students with the most need, the Mount awarded undergraduate Pell Grant recipients $780. Undergraduate students who did not receive a Pell Grant but had an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) less than $50,000 on their FAFSA were awarded $275. Adult accelerated undergraduate Pell Grant recipients were awarded $150 and adult accelerated undergraduate students, enrolled in at least six credit hours, who did not receive a Pell Grant with an EFC of less than $10,000 were awarded $75.

Additionally, eligible residential students who were requested to reside in a local hotel were awarded $475 or $100 depending on the duration of their stay as additional funding.

A total of 902 eligible students have been awarded CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants, totaling $405,680 in the phase 2 distribution.

All CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grant for students has been disbursed as of September 10, 2020. Please consider this our final report.

Do I need to complete a FAFSA to receive CARES Act Funds?

Mount St. Mary’s University used the FAFSA to determine Title IV eligibility. The FAFSA must have been processed no later than June 30, 2020, to be considered for phase 2 funding.

Are the funds I receive from the CARES Act taxable?

According the IRS website, “Emergency financial aid grants under the CARES Act for unexpected expenses, unmet financial need, or expenses related to the disruption of campus operations on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unexpected expenses for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, or childcare, are qualified disaster relief payments under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This grant is not includible in your gross income.”

Do I have to repay the emergency financial aid grant I received from my university through the CARES Act?

No. The funds provided by the CARES Act are grants, so they do not need to be repaid.

What can I spend the money on? Will I need to show receipts?

They money you have received is yours. You do not need to show receipts. The funds were provided to assist eligible students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

Why didn’t I receive a Phase 1 CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grant?

In order to receive funding under Phase 1, you must:

  • Have submitted a complete 2019-20 FAFSA.
  • Be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.*
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid Social Security Number.
  • Be an undergraduate, enrolled at the Mount during Spring 2020 at the time of the campus disruption due to coronavirus.
  • Meet minimum satisfactory academic progress standards.
  • Have an EFC less than $50,000.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • Not have federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale.

*The Mount estimates 1,462 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

Why didn’t I receive a Phase 2 CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grant?

In order to receive funding under Phase 2, you must:

  • Be determined to be Title IV eligible by submitting a complete a complete 2019-20 FAFSA by June 30, 2020.
  • Be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid Social Security Number.
  • Be an undergraduate, enrolled at the Mount during Spring 2020 at the time of the campus disruption due to coronavirus and the Fall 2020 as of August 26, 2020.
  • Meet minimum satisfactory academic progress standards.
  • Have an EFC less than $50,000 or a residential student requested by the University to reside in a local hotel.
  • Not be in default on a Title IV loan.
  • Not have federal or state conviction for drug possession or sale.

I was enrolled exclusively in online classes prior to March 13, 2020. Do I qualify for CARES Act funds?

You are not eligible for CARES Act funds if you were enrolled exclusively in an online program on March 13, 2020.

How do I get additional information on the eligibility and/or awarding of the CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students?

For questions on the eligibility and/or awarding of the CARES Act Emergency Financial Aid Grants for Students please email mountcovidaid@msmary.edu or call Renee Ginn at 301-447-5382.

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FAQs: General

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms are similar to what you might feel with a bad cold, moderate respiratory illness, or seasonal influenza. These might include:

  • Fever (temperature above 100.4º).
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing.

How is COVID-19 spread?

The first infections were linked to a live animal market in Wuhan, China, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s not yet known how easily this virus is spreading between people. This is why CDC recommends that those patients who are currently infected be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on the severity of their symptoms) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Why are scientists monitoring changes, or mutations, in coronavirus?

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces. Scientists monitor changes in the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. These studies, including genetic analyses of the virus, are helping scientists understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.

What variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally?

Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally:

· The United Kingdom (UK) identified a variant called B.1.1.7 with a large number of mutations in the fall of 2020.

This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. In January 2021, experts in the UK reported that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. It has since been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020.

· In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021.

· In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.

So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

The CDC is currently tracking the number of variant cases in the U.S. by state and updating their data tables weekly. As of February 23, Maryland had recorded 47 cases of B1.1.7, while Pennsylvania has had 29. Pennsylvania has had no cases of P.1 or B.1.351, while Maryland has had 1 and 8, respectively.

What domestic travel precautions should I take?

Notice from the Maryland Department of Health – Out of State Travel and Public Travel Advisory

The Maryland Department of Health strongly recommends that all Marylanders refrain from nonessential travel outside of Maryland due to the recent increase in COVID-19 infections in other states. In addition:

  1. Any Marylander returning from out-of-state or any out-of-state traveler should either get tested for COVID-19 promptly upon arrival in Maryland or within 72 hours before travel to Maryland. Find a test sites.

    We encourage out-of-state visitors to be tested within 72 hours prior to arrival and to cancel travel if they receive a positive result. Visitors waiting for their test results should stay at home between the time of their test and their arrival in Maryland or to self-quarantine at their hotel.

  2. Any Marylander who travels to a state with a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 10% should get tested and self-quarantine at home until the test result is received. The District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia are exempt from this recommendation.

    Find COVID-19 positivity rates by state. (COVID-19 Tests Performed by State - Commercial and Reference, Public Health, and Hospital).

  3. Essential workers, as previously referenced in the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel’s COVID-19-04 Interpretative Guidance, are exempt from the quarantine recommendation if they are returning or traveling to Maryland to perform essential work, as well as employee commuters who leave/enter the state on a daily basis and have work-based COVID-19 screening procedures.

This Notice is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until the state of emergency has been terminated and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded.

What international travel precautions should I take?

According to the most recent CDC update to its Travel Recommendations by Destination webpage (October 26, 2020), those anticipating travel abroad over the holidays or between semesters need to pay particular attention to the COVID-19 Risk Level assignments:

  • Level 3 – COVID-19 Risk is High
  • Level 2 – COVID-19 Risk is Moderate
  • Level 1 – COVID-19 Risk is Low
  • No Travel Health Notice: COVID-19 Risk is Very Low
  • Level 3 – No Data Available-COVID-19 Risk is Unknown

In addition several presidential proclamations restrict foreign nationals who have been in any of several countries during the past 14 days from entering the U.S.:

  • China
  • Iran
  • Most European Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

For a full list of exceptions, please refer to the relevant proclamations provided on the CDC Webpage.

In accordance with the University’s Return to Campus Plan, anyone returning from domestic travel to a state with a positivity rating above 10% OR international travel to a country with Level 2 or Level 3 COVID-19 Risk must self-quarantine for 14 days, observe all pandemic safety protocols (wear mask, physical distance, hand washing, etc.) and if possible, get tested prior to returning to campus.

Until the threat of this virus has subsided, university-related international travel must be approved by the provost or president.

What should I do if I have recently traveled internationally?

If you have traveled internationally to destinations other than level 3 countries, you should report to the Student Health Center as soon as possible on the 1st floor of McGowan Hall to do a risk assessment with our health care team.

Please also report your travel as follows:

  • Undergraduate students – Please inform Student Life at studentlife@msmary.edu.
  • Emmitsburg campus faculty, staff and administrators – Please inform your supervisor, along with Director of Human Resources Kristen Hurley at k.hurley@msmary.edu.
  • Students, faculty and staff in the Frederick-based Division of Graduate, Professional and Continuing Education – Please inform Executive Assistant, Associate Provost Office Denise Ausherman at ausherman@msmary.edu.
  • Seminarians – Please inform Msgr. Andrew Baker.

What should I do if I have recently traveled to an area experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19 (level 3 countries)?

If you have traveled to such an area, you must remain off-campus for 14 days for self-quarantine precautions and get checked by a health care professional before returning to campus. This type of virus has a long incubation period (how long the symptoms appear from your time of exposure) of up to 14 days. If you feel ill during this time, you should contact your health care provider. Areas currently experiencing transmission are changing constantly. Please refer the CDC Geographic Risk Assessment list and map.

What should I do if I have been advised to self-quarantine?

For Undergraduate Students

If you have recently traveled to an area of known high risk/exposure, you must remain off-campus for 14 days as noted above. Once you have contacted Student Life at studentlife@msmary.edu, the information will be communicated directly with the Associate Provost’s Office to make them aware of your absence from classes. However, it is strongly recommended that you also contact the Associate Provost’s Office at 301-447-5649 to let them know you will be out. The university is informing faculty/professors that they should be flexible with class attendance and course work policies from absences due to illness or quarantines.

Although you may be healthy during self-quarantine, it is the best way to prevent the possible spread of a communicable disease to which you may have been exposed.

For Others in the Mount Community

If you've been instructed to self-quarantine, please report as follows:

  • Emmitsburg campus faculty, staff and administrators – Please inform your supervisor, along with Director of Human Resources Kristen Hurley at k.hurley@msmary.edu.
  • Students, faculty and staff in the Frederick-based Division of Graduate, Professional and Continuing Education – Please inform Executive Assistant, Associate Provost Office Denise Ausherman at ausherman@msmary.edu.
  • Seminarians – Please inform Msgr. Andrew Baker.

What if I have flu-like symptoms but have not recently traveled to any areas of known high risk?

Those who have not recently visited areas experiencing sustained community transmission, but are experiencing influenza-like illness, especially with fever, cough and body aches, should consider seeking medical attention for the possibility of the flu, especially if symptoms worsen. Students on-campus should contact Health Services at 301-447-5288 and identify yourself as having flu-like symptoms. Students may also consult with their regular health care provider. Faculty and staff who are sick with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their personal physician.

How can I prevent infection with COVID-19?

At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent infection with COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself from infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As we seek to ensure the good health of our community, the CDC offers these everyday actions to help prevent the spread COVID-19 and other flu-like illnesses:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol. It is especially important to wash hands after going to the bathroom, before eating and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If you have a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, visit a health care provider. We will continue to ask faculty to work with students who miss classes due to illness.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. The Mount’s custodial services team is wiping down and disinfecting desks, work surfaces, bathrooms and public doorknobs and has installed hand sanitizers at various locations across campus.

What if I am experiencing anxiety or stress related to the COVID-19 situation?

We realize that following COVID-19 in the news can cause stress and anxiety. Students should contact staff members in Counseling Services or the Center for Campus Ministry, whom are prepared to support you. If you need assistance outside regular business hours, please call Public Safety at 301-447-5911, and they will connect you with someone who can help.

Where can I find additional information about COVID-19?

For additional information about Coronavirus, including signs and symptoms, transmission and risk of exposure, and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms, please refer to the latest updates from the CDC website. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been posting near-daily reports as this situation continues to evolve. These reports are especially helpful for tracking locations of new confirmed cases as well as updates on preparedness and response efforts.

We also strongly advise you to sign-up for Mount Alerts, as any urgent or emergency communication from the university would come through this channel.

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Public Resources

CDC – Situation Summary CDC – Cases in the U.S. CDC – Information for Travel CDC - Travel Health Notices FDA Advisory Frederick County Health Department Frederick Health Johns Hopkins – Global Cases Map Maryland Department of Health U.S. Department of State WHO – Overview WHO – Rolling Updates

Is it coronavirus (COVID-19), the flu, a cold or seasonal allergies?

All four can look very similar, making it hard to tell the difference. Use the chart below to help you decide when to seek care for your or your child’s symptoms.

If you start to feel sick, try not to panic or think the worst.

  • Coronavirus shares some of the same symptoms caused by the flu and colds, including fever and cough.
  • Remember, its still cold and flu season and seasonal allergies are widespread.

How to seek care for coronavirus

If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or loss of smell and/or taste, stay home and isolate yourself from others. To find the best care, take the free COVID-19 risk assessment tool from the CDC.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) The Flu A Cold Seasonal Allergies
What are the most common symptoms? (Keep in mind: You may have one or all of these symptoms.) Fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. Aches, chills, cough, diarrhea*, fatigue, fever, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, stuffy nose, or vomiting*. (*More common in children than adults.) Cough, fever (although rare), mucus dripping down your throat (post-nasal drip), runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, or watery eyes. Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, or watery eyes.
How long does it take for you to have symptoms after you are exposed? 2 to 14 days 1 to 4 days 1 to 3 days Right away
How long do symptoms last? Not known 3 to 7 days 7 to 10 days As long as you’re exposed to allergens

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