Health FAQs and Self-Care Advice

Dear Members of the Trinity College Community,

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic. That means the virus has gained worldwide community spread. Cases have been identified in the Hartford area, which moves us into a public health “response” phase. Below we provide important information about precautions to take and what to do if you experience symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to the virus.

First, I want to share an important update on the seven students who had been in quarantine since last week after they learned they might have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at a large event away from campus. None of the students developed symptoms. They are out of quarantine and healthy. They received further guidance from the event organizers that made clear that our students had no direct interaction with that individual, nor were they even at the event on the same day.

I also have been checking in regularly with all of our students who returned early from the Rome program. As you will recall, the college suspended the program when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised its travel advisory to a Warning Level 3 for the country, though at the time the outbreak was contained mostly to the northern part of Italy. All of those students report being healthy and symptom-free at this time.

What should you do to prevent spreading the virus?

  • Take precautions to not come in contact with the virus
  • Practice social distancing, avoid crowds
  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet from others in public if possible, especially if time spent with others is greater than 10 minutes
  • DO NOT touch your face with your hands until after cleaning them
  • Clean hands by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizing gel with an alcohol content of more than 60 percent
  • Monitor symptoms; if you develop a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) with shortness of breath and a dry cough, call your healthcare provider (staff and faculty) or the health center (students)

What should you do if you think you’ve been exposed?

For a known exposure (water droplet exposure) to a person with a confirmed positive test:

  • If you have no symptoms, self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor symptoms to see if illness develops
  • If you have symptoms, contact your primary care provider to discuss personal medical history and obtain advice on best steps for care

For a potential exposure to a person with a confirmed positive test (you may have been in the same space with the person but there was no fluid transmission):

  • Monitor yourself at home for 14 days to see if illness develops

For a potential exposure to a potential exposure:

  • You’re at no greater risk than the general public; follow preventive measures above

How/When/Where can I get tested?

As of today, testing in the state of Connecticut is very limited and is being done only on patients currently in intensive care and those in respiratory distress. People with no other illnesses (asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease) are NOT likely to be tested. As the availability of tests increases in the coming days, we anticipate this protocol to change.

How should I take care of myself if ill with a suspected/confirmed case?

  1. Stay home from work, school, and away from other public places. If you must go out, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing or taxis.
  2. Stay out of public until you are fever-free for 48 hours without using any medicine.
  3. Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately.
  4. Get rest and stay hydrated.
  5. Use over the counter medication per package instructions to manage your symptoms.
  6. If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider ahead of time and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19.
  7. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use tissues only once.
  8. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  9. As much as possible, stay in a specific room away from people in your home. Use a separate bathroom if available.
  10. Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes, towels and bedding.
  11. Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like countertops, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household sprays or cleaning wipes according to the instructions.

These measures can help keep you healthy and, when we all practice them, can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for your part in this important effort.


Martha B. O’Brien, MS, ANP, BC, APRN
Director, Student Health Services