What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. It has since spread around the world, including the United States.

What is the risk?

Right now, the greatest risk of infection is for people in China, Iran, Japan, Italy, and South Korea, or people who have traveled recently to these regions. Risk of infection is dependent on exposure. Close contacts of people who are infected are at greater risk of exposure, for example close contacts of people who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC continues to closely monitor the situation, and has up-to-date information on COVID-19. Children appear to be spared the most, with less than 3% of cases involving those under 19, and older adults and those with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk.

Symptoms and Transmission:

The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but now it seems to be spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some diseases are highly contagious (like measles), while other diseases are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading between people, but appears to be at highest risk for symptomatic people and people with close contact to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.


People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. (source: CDC) A Healthcare provider will determine whether a person meets criteria for testing for COVID-19. Your doctor may want to rule out other, more common illnesses like Influenza first.


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you sick!
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Pay special attention to hand-washing after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly
  • Cover your nose, mouth, face with tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in the trash.
  • Get your annual flu vaccine if you haven’t already. Though it will not protect from COVID-19, we are still seeing high rates of Influenza in the community. It’s not too late to protect yourself!

If you travel to/through China, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Italy:

  • The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to these countries.
  • American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been in these regions in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the U.S., but will be redirected to one of 11 airports to undergo health screening. Depending on their health and travel history, they will have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left.
  • You will need to be cleared by a public health official before returning to campus. You will be excluded from campus for 14 days from the time you left the region.
  • Follow the link for the latest information regarding Travel and COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing AND in the last 14 days you:

  • Traveled to China, Japan, Iran, Italy, or South Korea, OR had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region and had respiratory symptoms.

You should: 

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Cuesta Students may call the Health Center at 805-546-3171 (SLO) or 805-591-6200 ext. 4207 (NCC) during normal business hours. After hours you can seek medical attention at any hospital or after-hours medical facility.
  • Not a Cuesta Student? Contact your health care provider or call 211 or (800) 549-8989 for local resources if you do not have a health care provider.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or just arrive at the campus health service. Instead call 805-546-3171 (SLO) or 805-591-6200 ext. 4207 (NCC).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Follow this link for more information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 while sick.

What is the Cuesta College doing about COVID-19?

Cuesta College has been working with the Public Health Department from the beginning of this public health threat and is committed to working closely with state and local health departments in the event of any public health emergency. Travelers with recent travel to affected regions as described in this memo will be excluded for a period of 14 days as directed by the California Public Health Department. At this time, no additional recommendations have been made by the Public Health Department for our campus. If new information or recommendations become available, our college will notify the campus and comply with all necessary recommendations.

March 2, 2020