NEC Health Alert

Coronavirus Updates

NEC Health Alert
Update on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus
February 6, 2020 1:30PM ET


Dear members of the NEC community,

New England Conservatory has been monitoring global developments regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. We are writing to share an update on actions that NEC is taking to ensure the wellness and safety of our community.

On February 3, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for risk assessment and public health management of persons with potential 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) exposure.  This guidance does not apply retroactively to people who have been in China during the previous 14 days and are already in the United States.

Out of an abundance of caution, and aligned with the CDC’s recommendations, NEC is asking individuals traveling from mainland China who do not have symptoms of illness to self-isolate* for 14 days after their departure from China, effective February 3, 2020.  Our priority is to maintain a safe and healthy campus community and environment and decrease the potential spread of infection.  

At this time, there are no known or suspected cases of Coronavirus on our campus.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a health care provider's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • 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.

The NEC Health Center continues to monitor this situation closely, and is working with the Boston Public Health Commission to share timely updates and guidance. Future updates, including the status of the self-isolation period, will be available on the NEC Health Alert page, at

We recognize that many individuals are feeling the stress associated with what we know, and do not know about the Novel 2019 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  We want to stress the importance of supporting one another as this situation evolves and being aware of the potential for bias and negative attitudes about individuals traveling from China.  The NEC Counseling Center stands ready to provide counseling services to anyone who is feeling stressed by this situation or in need of additional support.

It is important to remember that viruses do not discriminate when it comes to who will be affected or infected.  Equally important is the recognition that our cultural beliefs affect how we maintain health and respond to potential illness. One example is the use of face masks.  Many cultures use face masks to protect the lungs when air quality is unhealthy or to protect against respiratory infections like influenza, and most recently 2019 n-CoV.  Individuals will also use face masks when ill with a respiratory illness to prevent the spread of infection to others.  

It is important to recognize and practice healthy habits that will minimize the spread of infection and know the limitations of the face mask as an infection control measure.  Face masks become less effective when they become moist, approximately after 30 minutes of use. Individuals who choose to wear a face mask should practice effective hand hygiene after touching or removing their face mask and dispose of the used face mask in the trash. It is important to note that there is a shortage of face masks due to the increase in demand related to the 2019 n-CoV.  Reassuringly, the CDC has not recommended the wide spread use of face masks in uninfected individuals as a 2019 n-CoV infection control measure.  

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus. The BPHC recommends standard precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using alcohol-based hand rubs and gels.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For more information about 2019-nCoV, please visit the CDC website.

NEC community updates will be posted on the NEC Health Alert page:

Additional Resources:
Interim Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings

To the extent possible, remain at home or in a comparable setting. Avoid congregate settings, limit public activities, and practice social distancing.