Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

In our desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the college is providing some everyday health and preparedness steps that will help us prevent workplace and communal exposure to COVID-19.

Overview of COVID-19

 

In December 2019, Chinese officials confirmed cases of pneumonia associated with a “novel,” or new, strain of a type of virus called a “coronavirus.” Disease caused by this virus (COVID-19) has been reported in many countries, including the United States.

 

What is the source?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.

 

What are the symptoms and complications?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

 

This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.

 

How does the virus spread?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.

 

Click here to visit the COVID-19 Data Visualization website >

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Unexplained cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Chills or shaking chills
  • Muscle aches not related to physical exercise or activity
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Unexplained diarrhea
  • Congestion or runny nose

If you are a Meharry employee, stay at home and call the COVID-19 Hotline at 615-327-6093, M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you experience symptoms beyond these hours, contact your primary physician or local emergency room.

 

If you are not a Meharry employee call the Nashville COVID-19 Hotline at 615-862-7777.

If you believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19

If a colleague or classmate has tested positive and you have been contacted for testing

  • The person tested will self-isolate and contact tracing will begin, if positive. 
  • Current CDC guidelines suggest that risk of transmission is increased by spending more than 15 minutes in close contact (within 6 feet) with a person who is positive.
    • If you have spent more than 15 minutes with an individual who has tested positive, you should call the COVID-19 Hotline, 615-327-6093, M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for further guidance. 
  • Follow the guidance provided by Student and Employee Health.

If you are a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19

  • If your COVID-19 testing was not done by Student and Employee Health (SEH), submit your test results to that office by emailing them to SHS@mmc.edu. 
  • Students and employees with positive COVID-19 test results and who have no symptoms: 
    • Individuals will be monitored by SEH.
    • Individuals should self-isolate in their residences for 14 days. 
    • During the period of isolation students should contact their instructors for guidance on how to continue their studies and other academic activities.
    • During the period of isolation employees should contact their supervisors for guidance on how to continue their work.
    • Individuals must be retested for COVID-19 on day 10 or 11 following their perceived date of exposure to COVID-19.
      • Individuals who do not know the date of exposure, must be retested on day 10 or 11 following the date of the initial test.
    • Following the period of self-isolation, individuals must receive one negative test result before returning to their academic, research, clinical, or office work.
    • Individuals who have questions or who develop symptoms during the period of isolation should contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 615-327-6093. 
  • Students and employees with positive COVID-19 test results and who are symptomatic:
    • Individuals will be monitored and managed by SEH.
    • Individuals should self-isolate in their residences for 14 days. 
    • During the period of isolation students should contact their instructors for guidance on how to continue their studies and other academic activities.
    • During the period of isolation employees should contact their supervisors for guidance on how to continue their work.
    • Individuals must be tested for COVID-19 on day 10 or 11 following the onset of symptoms.
    • Individuals must receive one negative test result and have no symptoms of COVID-19 for 72 hours without medication, before returning to their academic, research, clinical, or office work.
    • Students and Employees whose symptoms persist beyond 14 days:
      • May return to academic, research, clinical, or office work after receiving two negative test results (even though the symptoms may not have abated) as long as a fever is not present.
      • Cannot return to work at an Assessment site until they have received two negative test results and are asymptomatic.

Contact Student and Employee Health if you have additional questions about testing or returning to work. 

If you have a case of COVID-19 reported in your office or suite

  1. Individual is tested for COVID-19 by Student and Employee Health (SEH). This person is also referred to as the “target person.”
  2. After testing, Student and Employee Health (SEH) sends to the target person notification that: 1) they are clear to return to work, or 2) they are to self-isolate.
  3. A copy of that same document is also sent to the supervisor of that individual.
  4. Protocol for target persons who have been cleared to return to work: 
    1. Target person may continue their activities on campus.
  5. Protocol for target persons who have not been cleared to return to work:
    1. Student and Employee Health (SEH) will initiate contact tracing.
    2. Target person must follow protocols established in “If you are a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
    3. The supervisor will instruct all persons who share a working space, office, or suite with the target person to immediately leave the area and work from home until the area has been sanitized.
      1. If co-workers in the office or suite have had contact with the target person they will be contacted by Student and Employee Health (SEH) for the purpose of scheduling a time to be tested for COVID-19.
    4. If the target person has a physical space that is located within a suite, the entire suite will be vacated until sanitization of the entire area has been completed.
    5. The supervisor will contact Campus Operations to schedule sanitization of the space using the Campus Operations COVID-19 protocols. Note: the person’s name will not be included on the notification, only the location of the physical space on campus. The supervisor will help Campus Operations identify the exact areas to be sanitized. 
    6. Campus Operations in consultation with the Environmental Health and Safety Officer (615-327-6642) and the Chemical and Biosafety Officer (in case of a research laboratory) of the College will initiate sanitization of the infected area using the Campus Operations COVID-19 protocols.
    7. Student and Employee Health (SEH) will forward a copy of the notification to the Executive Vice President (EVP) and to Human Resources. 
  6. Persons may return to work in their physical spaces once sanitization of the area has been completed. Please see the tables below for additional details.

Remember to keep up the habits that help prevent COVID-19 infection:

  • Maintain social distancing—putting 6 feet of space between you and others in your daily interactions (to minimize any aerosol infection).
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue away in a receptacle and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wear a mask when in public and while at work and around others.
  • Avoid social gatherings, particularly if you cannot maintain a distance of 6 ft or more.
  • Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. Take extra precautions if traveling with other members of the public. Be mindful of hot spots and areas of increased risk for transmission. 
  • Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

Preventing Illness

 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

What to do if you are sick

 

The situation is rapidly evolving and recommendations from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State change daily. Members of the Meharry Medical College (MMC) community are encouraged to monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.

 

Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

 

MMC faculty, staff and students should contact the Employee (Student) Health Center, for further evaluation.   The CDC has issued information regarding symptomsprevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

 

All Meharry Medical Group (MMG) health care providers, including the Employee (Student) Health Center, will assess patients for potential COVID-19 infection. Those with cough and fever will be asked for a travel history to determine if they are at risk for the newly identified coronavirus. Patients who respond “yes” to these questions will be masked to protect other patients as the cause of their illness is being evaluated.

Will MMC remain open?

  • Yes, campus remains open.

 

What is the college doing to ensure teaching continues?

  • Based on current information, classes will continue without interruption. There will be constant monitoring of information form the CDC and the U.S. Department of State.
  • All didactic courses that do not have a lab component will be provided via an online/asynchronous format. Clinical rotations and labs will continue as usual.

 

Are campus events canceled?

  • Based on current information, classes will continue without interruption. There will be constant monitoring of information form the CDC and the U.S. Department of State.

 

What is MMC instructing those returning to the Unites States from heavily affected countries such as mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy to do?

  • Consistent with CDC guidance, MMC is instructing those community members to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

What are the instructions for those who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected, or exhibits symptoms consistent with, COVID- 19 infection?

  • Any individual who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19 or who exhibits symptoms consistent with, COVID-19 infection should self-isolate and notify the college in order to receive healthcare monitoring and support. For additional information on how to gauge your risk of COVID-19 infection, see the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.

 

How is MMC assisting community members who self- isolate?

  • The college will work with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period. Staff should contact the HR department to discuss how to find the appropriate solution so that they can self-isolate. Faculty should contact their dean to seek assistance while they must remain away from work. Postdocs should contact their dean and faculty advisor for assistance.

 

What office should I contact if I am worried about my health?

  • Those who believe they may have been exposed to or infected with the novel coronavirus should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. MMC students should contact the Student Health Center, while faculty and staff should contact the Employee Health Clinic, for further evaluation.

 

I’m worried about someone who might be sick or might have been exposed to COVID- 19. What should I do?

  • If the person is a student, encourage them to consult with the Student Health Center. If they are a faculty or staff member, they should consult with the Employee Health Center. The CDC also advises that many of the same precautions recommended when protecting oneself against the flu, can help prevent COVID-19 infection.

 

Whom should I contact if I am feeling anxious, have experienced losses, or am struggling to cope and to come to terms with the impact of the COVID-19?

  • Students may contact their respective Dean’s office for support. Faculty and staff can reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for assistance:
  • Toll Free Number: 1-800-523-5688
  • TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006

 

If I have experienced harassment or bias related to concerns about the virus, who should I contact?

  • MMC is committed to creating and sustaining a safe and inclusive campus community. Faculty, staff and students should not hesitate to contract the Office of General Counsel/Corporate Compliance Office or HR to file a report about such conduct.

 

Travel

What changes has Meharry made to faculty, staff and student travel abroad in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?

  • MMC is suspending all college-sponsored l travel until further notice.

 

What is considered “College-sponsored travel?”

College-sponsored travel includes, but is not limited to:

  • Travel on MMC-related business,
  • Travel that relates to an employee’s professional interests and positions, such as board or other professional organization roles,
  • Travel paid in full or in part by MMC,
  • Travel organized, endorsed and/or sponsored by MMC or organizations associated with MMC such as student clubs, or
  • Travel that involves academic credit granted by MMC.

 

Does this rule apply to personal travel?

  • The college strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel to any country with a CDC Level 3 or State Department Level 4 advisory based on the novel coronavirus.

Prospective Travelers (College and Personal)

 

MMC is suspending all college-sponsored travel until further notice. *Any travel that is covered by or reimbursable from college funds is considered college sponsored.

 

The college strongly recommends that everyone reconsider even personal travel abroad at this time. Anyone returning from international travel will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning campus.

 

The list of affected countries and the warning level is dynamic. We encourage you to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC websites.

 

International travel is more difficult than usual as a result of COVID-19.  Due to public health measures, travelers may encounter delays or other difficulties at the U.S. port of entry or at the port of entry of another country. Travelers should also ensure they have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of their trip.

 

 

Conference / Meeting Cancellations

 

Some MMC travelers are reporting that conferences and meetings for which they planned travel are being canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

 

Many airlines have altered flight schedules and capacity to highly affected areas for both domestic and international destinations. Some have begun to offer refund/booking options.

Returning Travelers

 

Consistent with CDC guidance, Meharry is instructing all community members and visitors returning to the United States from mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

Any individual who may have been in contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19 or who exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection should also self-isolate.

 

Additionally, those who need to self-isolate should notify the college in order to receive health care monitoring and support and to protect the health and safety of our community.

 

The self-isolation guidance may change quickly, so please stay informed.  For additional information on how to gauge your risk of COVID-19 infection, see the CDC website.

 

The college will work with students to minimize disruptions to their academic progress during the isolation period.

 

Important details regarding self-isolation procedures:

  • Faculty, staff and students:  All should contact their dean or supervisor to seek assistance while they must remain away from work or academic studies.
  • Campus Residents: Campus residents who have traveled to China, South Korea, Iran or Italy within the past 14 days should self-isolate and contact Campus Housing at least 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus.

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer resources for you to stay current. See the following for the latest status and recommendations.

  • Department of Health website
  • COVID-19 Public Information Hotline: (877) 857-2945, available daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

CDC information for:

 

If you are an MMC/MMG employee or patient with fever, cough or shortness of breath and are concerned about the coronavirus, call (615)327-6093 to be assessed.

 

On Campus

Those with questions or concerns about coronavirus infection should contact the following:

 

Support for the Meharry Community

Services are available to support mental health and well-being during this time.

 

Other Resources

Meharry Medical College’s Policy on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) – CARES ACT

Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

 

Section 18004(c) of the Cares Act requires Meharry Medical College to use at least fifty (50%) percent of the funds received to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID 19 (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

 

Upon receipt of the Grant Award Notification (GANS) from the U.S. Department of Education, Meharry Medical College will promptly make available emergency financial aid grants as funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act directly to students enrolled in the spring 2020 semester for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID 19, (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care) as required by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act. Meharry Medical College will not use the funds to reimburse itself for any costs or expenses, including but not limited to, any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus and/or any refunds or other benefit previously issued to students.

  • Meharry Medical College acknowledges that it has signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education the Certification and Agreement for funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.
  • The total amount of funds Meharry Medical College received from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students is $109,988.
  • The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission (i.e., as of the 30-day Report and every 45 days thereafter) is $109,988.
  • The estimated total number of students at Meharry Medical College 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 is 750.

 

 

Student Eligibility

 

Initial Eligibility requirement as of April 24, 2020

  1. Students must be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). For purposes of disbursal of these funds, the College will base determination of eligibility on the existence of the student’s 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. Student must be enrolled at least half time.
  3. Students must be United States citizens.
  4. Student must be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress.

 

Consistent with Section 18004(c), Meharry Medical College retains discretion to:

  1. Determine the amount of each individual Emergency Financial Aid Grant consistent with all applicable laws including non-discrimination laws.
  2. Prescribe the methodology for distribution of funds across the student population.

 

The CARES Act student emergency funding will be managed by the Director of Financial Aid. As encouraged by the Secretary of Education in the Recipient’s Funding Certification and Agreement for CARES Act Funding, the Director of Financial Aid will exercise the use of professional judgment available under Section 479A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), 20 U.S.C § 1087tt, to determine need and eligibility for receipt of CARES Act student emergency grants.

 

The College will award student emergency grants on the basis of need and upon certification (by each grantee/student) of allowable use as defined by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act and consistent with this policy.

 

The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, does not consider these individual Emergency Financial Aid Grants to constitute Federal Financial Aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). The emergency financial aid funds will not be used for any purpose other than the direct payments of grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Meharry Medical College will promptly comply with Section 18004(e) of the CARES Act and report to the Secretary, when required, in accordance with 2 CFR 200.333 through 2 CFR 200.337, or in other additional form as the Secretary may specify.

 

Meharry Medical College will report:

  • how grants were distributed to students,
  • the amount of each grant awarded to each student,
  • how the amount of each grant was calculated, and
  • any instructions or directions given to students about the grants

 

Meharry Medical College will distribute all the funds in the form of emergency financial aid grants to students within 12 months from the date of the signed Certificate and Agreement. Students interested in applying for the emergency grant funds must complete an application form prior to the release of their Emergency Grant Funds. A committee will be developed to assist in reviewing the applications. The committee will review the application, along with the submitted documentation to determine eligibility. Due to the small allocation, guidelines were put in place to award students on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority consideration will be given to currently enrolled students whose future enrollment may be affected by COVID-19 pandemic.  Funds will be disbursed to students submitting complete forms indicating and certifying that funds will be used for allowable expenses as outlined by Section 18004(c) of the CARES Act. Students not submitting required supporting documentation with their application will not be considered for the emergency grants.  The Office of Financial Aid will review and approve all submitted certification forms prior to disbursal of funds.  The Business and Finance Office will process the payments of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to each student in the same manner in which credit balances are processed for Title IV aid. At no time will any emergency grant be used by the College to offset existing student account balances, nor future student account charges. Funds will be disbursed directly to individual students, as directed by that student, in the form of a check or electronic transfer payment.

 

 

Application Process

 

An application will be created via Wofoo and disseminated, via the Meharry e-mail system, to the entire student body at Meharry. All students will be instructed to apply and attach documentation. Due to the small allocation, it was decided to award said grant funds on a first-come, first-served basis based on the request. It was determined, based on the allocation and to assist as many students as possible, the grant funds would be capped at $1,500 and the reasons would be narrowed down, i.e. 4th year students requesting moving expenses would not be funded; students who did not attach documentation for the request, would not considered; credit card bills, car payments, car insurance payments, etc. would not be included. It was a difficult decision to narrow down the application approval, due to all students had already received federal funds to cover their requests

 

After the applications are received, following USDE’s guidelines, the Committee will review each application and use a weighted worksheet to finalize the process. 

 

Update:

The total number of students who have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 121.

The total allocation of the CARES Act funds have been awarded and disbursed to all eligible recipients. There are no remaining grant funds available.

FOR MMC/MMG PATIENTS AND EMPLOYEES

What to do if you are concerned you are ill with COVID-19

 

MMG patients with respiratory illnesses seeking more information about possible COVID-19 infection should call (615) 327-6348 from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.  After hours please call 615.327.MD4U.

 

MMG employees with respiratory illnesses seeking more information about possible COVID-19 infection should call (615) 327-6093.

 

Before calling, please consider that if you do not have symptoms and would not ordinarily see your doctor based on how you feel now, you do not need evaluation or testing for COVID-19.

 

At this time, MMG clinicians will not assess patients for COVID-19 who are not exhibiting symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.

 

If you do go to a clinic with fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call ahead so that our staff can meet you with a mask for your safety and the safety of other patients and our staff.

Latest information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/index.html

Meharrians:

 

As we find ourselves in uncharted territory in the wake of COVID-19, it is understandable there may be concerns about HIPAA compliance and the COVID-19 pandemic.  There may be confusion about what information can be shared about an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, those suspected of exposure to the virus, and those with whom data can be shared. Please be reminded that the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules still apply.  The Security Rule is in place to ensure the security of patients’ protected health information (PHI) and requires safeguards to be implemented to protect disclosure.  

 

However, effective March 15, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a limited HIPAA waiver intended to relax the following Privacy Rules:

  • The requirements to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care – 45 CFR 164.510(b)
  • The requirement to honor a request to opt-out of the facility directory – 45 CFR 164.510(a);
  • The requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices – 45 CFR 164.520
  • The patient’s right to request privacy restrictions – 45 CFR 164.522(a)
  • The patient’s right to request confidential communications – 45 CFR 164.522(b)

 

So, what does this mean?  The HIPAA waiver allows disclosure of PHI, as it relates to the COVID-19, without first receiving authorization from a patient for treatment purposes.  It is also permissible to share PHI with public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others responsible for ensuring the safety of the public, such as state and local health departments.  Finally, disclosures of PHI is permitted to prevent and lessen a serious and imminent threat to a specific person or the public.  A provider should use their discretion and professional judgment when determining whom to notify (i.e., staff, leadership, patient’s family) if a patient tests positive for COVID-19 about the nature and the severity of the threat.  

 

The HIPAA waiver is applicable for a period of 72 hours from the time the COVID-19 protocol is implemented and only applies to health-related matters associated with COVID-19.  

 

As we strive to provide superior patient care during this rapidly changing environment, let us not forget our continuous obligation to patient rights.

 

If you have any questions or concerns related to the limited HIPAA waiver, please contact the Compliance and Risk Management office at 615.327.6780 or compliance@mmc.edu.