Dear TC Community Members: 

We continue to closely monitor the outbreak and we are in daily communication with the medical team at Columbia Health on up-to-date information on the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China.  

The outbreak is of major concern to all of us.  We are approaching it with thoughtfulness and timely intervention based on recommendations from our colleagues on the main campus.  They are following national recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Prevention (CDC) and our own Columbia University infectious disease experts. 

We will continue to share up-to-date information as soon as we have it.  However, the best place to access this remains the frequently asked questions page of the Columbia Health Site at

We hope that everyone understands that TC is being diligent, each day, in communicating with our colleagues, who are also consulting with leading health authorities locally, nationally and at other colleges and universities.  As a result, we may have up-to-date information posted at any time as the circumstances change.  

To date, there are no known cases in the New York area and no known cases concerning our students, faculty, staff, or affiliates. Presently, the immediate health risk to the greater Columbia University community is therefore considered low.  Therefore, we are not recommending any change to classes, operations, events, activities, practicums, internships, student teaching or assignments.   Faculty members should be flexible in supporting students who may need to engage with the class remotely.  Students should be in contact with faculty members if there are requests and a need for remote access to classes during this time.  


As a reminder, symptoms of 2019-nCoV include:

  • fever 
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

These symptoms may be similar to the flu or the common cold. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions. Medical offices are seeing many cases of influenza and other common respiratory illnesses in our students, faculty, and staff. Columbia clinicians and all physicians and staff who care for patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have been informed of all recommended precautions and will screen any patient presenting with fever and respiratory symptoms for a recent travel history or contact with someone who has recently traveled.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning (the highest level of warning), urging all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to China, and International SOS has advised travelers to consider deferring non-essential travel to mainland China.

TC has determined to restrict student, faculty, and staff travel to China until the disease has run its course. 

Any TC employee, faculty, or staff who wishes to travel to China for a compelling College-related reason must submit a written request to the Office of Risk Management at TC. 

We have communicated with currently enrolled students from China to see if they are safe and if they need any assistance. 


Returning travelers who have no symptoms 

Students who have been in China in the last 14 days and are concerned about their potential risk may contact their campus medical service: Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400) for an evaluation and recommendations. Faculty, staff, and visitors with concerns should contact their primary care provider or Columbia Health. While asymptomatic travelers are not required by the University to self-isolate, some are choosing to do so. If this is the case, these individuals should be in touch with their supervisor or academic advisor. In most cases, returning travelers can follow their ordinary daily activities.

Returning travelers with symptoms 

Returning travelers from China who are experiencing the symptoms listed above should seek medical attention immediately. They should call ahead to their provider or the emergency room and let them know of their recent travel and symptoms. Columbia students, please contact your campus medical service: Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400). Faculty staff, and visitors, please contact your primary care provider or the nearest emergency room.


Columbia has published a series of FAQs around 2019-nCoV and will continue to update the website as needed. Please use these additional resources for more information:

Columbia Preparedness

World Health Organization (WHO) Information about Coronavirus

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Situation Summary

NYC Department of Health Information About Coronavirus

Finally, we know that many in our community may have family or friends affected by this outbreak. We encourage anyone who needs support during this time to contact Columbia Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services, CUIMC’s Mental Health Services, or the Office of the University Chaplain.  TC students may also contact our Student Support & Counseling Team at:


Please continue to take care of yourselves and one another. 


Tom Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs