Coronavirus causes a flu-like illness in people who are exposed and vulnerable to it. It is a mild-to-severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Henry Ford College has closed its campuses to the public and moved most Winter 2020 classes online. Complete information about Winter operations
News and information about coronavirus
March 27 update about COVID-19 reports
Michigan has been experiencing a continued increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus. Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer, federal, and state health experts, and news organizations tell us that this increase in confirmed cases is expected, in part because more people are getting tested. This increase in the number of confirmed cases is distressing, but it should remind us to do all that we can to help reduce the spread of the virus. Each of us should follow Governor Whitmer’s March 23, 2020 Executive Order 2020-21, the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the practice of social distancing.
The College has received communications from students, family members, and employees who report that they or their family members either suspect they have COVID-19, or that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Due to federal privacy laws, no personal information regarding any student or employee’s physical health will be shared with the College community.
The Wayne County Public Health Department (WCHD) takes the lead on investigating confirmed cases of COVID-19. The WCHD gathers data from hospitals and physicians and acts on the information they receive from those sources. The WCHD will also determine, after their investigation, appropriate communications to other people who have been in contact with a person who is infected. The WCHD will advise the College of any necessary action to respond to any COVID-19 infections, and on March 23, 2020, the WCHD indicated to the College: “there is no further action that the College needs to take at this time.” We will immediately implement any actions that the WCHD directs in the future... [read entire announcement]
March 22 update about unconfirmed COVID-19 report
A number of people have asked about the identity of the student whose family member reported a possible case of COVID-19 on March 19. As of today, we do not have confirmation of this report.
We are not able to disclose further details relating to this student or the student's specific class on our campus. To do so would violate the federal privacy laws. We can disclose the following:
- The student's adult child contacted us to make the report.
- We have tried to confirm the report, and have been unable to do so.
- The student was enrolled in one on-campus biology class, and last attended that class on Monday, March 2.
This student was last on our campus 20+ days ago. The incubation period for COVID-19 is generally reported as 14 days. If you are experiencing symptoms such as a high fever, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms, we recommend you reach out to your doctor's office or local health care provider for guidance on how to get tested and where to go to receive care.
If we receive confirmation of this reported case of COVID-19, we will provide an update.
March 20 update: unconfirmed report of COVID-19
Last night, March 19, the family member of an HFC student reported to the College that the student had been diagnosed with COVID-19. We do not have medical confirmation of this diagnosis.
The student is enrolled in one on-campus class, a biology class, at the College. The last time the student was on campus for this biology class and related lab was March 2. The class was the final period of the day in the classroom and lab. Since that time, the facilities have been cleaned and sanitized regularly, as have our other classrooms. We are complying with OSHA regulations and with CDC recommendations in sanitizing our buildings, including classrooms.
The College will rely on the Wayne County Health Department for any further information. We encourage you to continue following government recommendations of handwashing, social distancing, and avoiding touching your face wherever possible.
March 19 update
The College has created a new Winter 2020 Operations website detailing all of our changes for the rest of Winter 2020 semester. Please review that site for complete information about classes and our community.
HFC response to coronavirus: timeline March 4 - March 16, 2020
- March 16 : Things are changing rapidly across our state and nation. President Kavalhuna sent messages to students and employees based on what we know today, and what we are working on this week. Please visit this webpage for further updates.
- March 16 state of Michigan updates : Governor Whitmer expands unemployment benefits for people who must stay home from work. Governor Whitmer closes bars, theaters, casinos, dine-in restaurants
- March 13 update : [Governor Gretchen Whitmer orders temporary prohibition on large assemblages and events](https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90487-521596--,00.html).
- Henry Ford College announces major changes to our operations for the rest of the Winter 2020 semester March 12
- HFC assesses our response, adapting our response and operations planning for timeliness and effectiveness. daily
- President Kavalhuna releases video about HFC's response March 11
- Michigan Dept of Health and Human Services Interim Recommendations. March 11
- Governor Whitmer declares State of Emergency to maximize efforts to slow the spread. March 10
- HFC consults with leaders from other educational institutions, government and civic leaders, and public health officials. ongoing
- Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Herbst convenes a cross-divisional team to work on coronavirus response and to work with other College officials. March 5
- President Kavalhuna's message to the College community. March 4
- Governor Whitmer activates state emergency operations center to coordinate response. Feb. 28
What you can do to avoid getting sick
While there is no way to guarantee you will not catch an infectious disease, you can take significant steps to increase your chances of staying healthy. This reminder of healthy habits and prevention emphasizes proven techniques that might be helpful to you. Winter, in particular, tends to be a time when respiratory and intestinal illnesses like cold and flu are prevalent.
NOTE: There are many online sources for information about avoiding infection with coronavirus. Some include:
- CDC "Stop the Spread of Germs" poster
- CDC "What to do if you are sick with COVID-19" poster
- CDC fact sheet
- CDC resource site
You will find many other sources that provide similar tips to the list below.
First, and most important, wash your hands regularly, and thoroughly with soap and water. This is especially important after you handle food, use the restroom, use public transportation, spend time in a public place, or find yourself in close proximity to people who are sick.
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. The preferred method is to use the crook of your elbow if you need to sneeze. Face away from others, and use a tissue if possible. Wash your hands afterward!
Some people keep a container of hand sanitizer near their desk or in their backpack or purse. If you do not have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol as a good option for killing germs.
Try to avoid touching your face, mouth, and nose when you are in public places. This will help you avoid transferring germs from surfaces and implements into your respiratory and digestive tract.
Wash sheets, towels, hats, scarves, and similar items regularly – and immediately if you’ve been sick.
Touching people and things:
Cell phones and germs: cell phones are notoriously gross. Avoid picking up or handling someone else’s cell phone. Don’t let others handle your cell phone. And clean your cell phone’s surfaces frequently!
Clean and disinfect surfaces, such as countertops, desktops, and doorknobs, that are likely to be contaminated with germs.
Office and classroom implements like pens, pencils, staplers, tape dispensers, computer keyboards / mice, and phones are all items that carry germs. Wash your hands if you are sharing these items with others or using labs.
Avoid close contact with sick people. Do not shake hands with people if you or they are sick. If your intimate partner has a cold or flu, it’s best to keep your distance until they have fully recovered.
Don’t put your backpack, coat, or other outerwear on your bed or pillow. These items can pick up all kinds of germs (and dirt) that you don’t want on your face.
Do not share toiletries or makeup with roommates.
If you are sick, you should stay home as much as possible. If you must be in a public setting, the CDC recommends that you wear a facemask to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of others. The CDC does not recommend that people who are in good health wear facemasks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus.
Out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to avoid physical social contact, such as shaking hands or hugging people you don't know well. You can use a warm verbal greeting or a nod and smile as alternatives to touching.
Food and food implements:
Maintain a healthy diet if you can. Eat mostly fresh foods, and minimal processed or junk foods.
Do not partake of food items that others may have touched with bare hands. Bowls of unwrapped mints, candies, or chocolates are high risk spots for germs.
Do not eat perishable food that has been sitting out for a long period of time.
Do not share beverage containers, dishes, or utensils with others. Wash your dishes in hot, soapy water and rinse before re-using them.
If you are visiting a food buffet, you may want to consider using a napkin or wearing a glove so you are not touching the serving implements that others have touched with bare hands.
Do not place food or snacks directly on surfaces. Use a plate or napkin to protect yourself from transferring germs to your food before consuming it.
Other tips for staying healthy:
Get a flu shot when they are available.
If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others. Notify your supervisor, instructor, or students if you can’t make it to campus because you are sick.
Maintain a healthy diet.
Get enough sleep.
Limit your alcohol intake.
Spend time with people who care about you. This can help with physical, mental, and emotional health.
Keep your stress levels manageable (some of the above tips can help. Counseling is also available on campus if you need it.)
If you are vulnerable to respiratory or intestinal illness, consider wearing a protective mask when you are in public places. (As noted above, people who are in good health and not immunosuppressed will probably not see any benefit from wearing a facemask.)
If you do get sick, especially if your symptoms are severe or you’re not recovering, seek immediate medical attention.
What to do if you are sick
April 3, 2020
If your illness is serious, if you have a high fever or are experiencing shortness of breath, consult a health care professional immediately. Call before going to a hospital, if possible.
For all HFC-related absence time due to illness, please refer to the "Absences due to illness or COVID-19 issues" section or our Winter 2020 information and resources website.
Masks and gloves: evolving guidance for the public
These devices are used by health care providers to protect them and their patients. There is broad debate about their usefulness for the general public. The most recent guidance (April 3, 2020) suggests that some members of the public may wish to wear masks and gloves during infrequent, necessary trips to public places.
The best way to avoid contracting and spreading coronavirus is to stay away from other people. The "stay home, stay safe" order and social distancing practices will keep you safe.
However, many people need to go to food stores and other places to pick up essential food and supplies. During this time, you may wish to consider wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Please be aware: Wearing a face mask or gloves is not a sure way to prevent transmission, and you must still practice care, hygiene, and social distancing. Continue sanitizing all items you bring into your home. Be aware of cross-contamination.
Face masks or surgical masks
Please continue to be cautious if you choose to wear a face mask. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "While a surgical mask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures. Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the face mask and your face."
Masks are not intended to be worn more than once, and can contaminate you if you wear them multiple times. Also, due to their loose-fitting nature, they can actually hold infectious particles closer to your mouth and nose if those particles get behind the mask.
You may have heard of N95 Respirators, which are individually-fitted masks worn in specific situations by health care personnel. N95 means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of airborne particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators are higher than those of regular face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not eliminate the risk of illness or death.
Please follow standard safety measures (social distancing, hand washing, sanitization, and hygiene) even if you choose to wear a face mask.
Rubber gloves or surgical gloves
Surgical gloves are best suited for one-time use in treating a single patient in a health care setting. If you wear gloves to protect yourself from touching surfaces doorknobs, keyboards, keypads, etc., you will be causing cross-contamination every time you touch another surface. Your gloves can quickly become a concentrated source of contamination.
This is why you will observe health care professionals removing gloves inside-out, throwing them away, and washing their hands after every use.
We recommend you follow standard safety measures (social distancing, hand washing, sanitization, and hygiene) even if you choose to wear gloves.
Throw your gloves away or sanitize them after you wear them, and wash your hands with hot, soapy water immediately. Sanitize any surfaces you touched while wearing gloves, to reduce cross-contamination.
Remember: coronavirus cannot penetrate healthy skin. You do not need to wear gloves to protect your hands, unless you have cuts to your skin. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly is sufficient to degrade the virus.
Video: what is Coronavirus and how does it spread?
The World Health Organization provides this 4-and-a-half-minute video that explains what Coronavirus is and what the risks are.
Recommended external coronavirus resources
The following resources are free and are reliable for information and assistance to our community.