COVID-19 Update: June 24, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Many thanks for helping us prepare the campus for commencement ceremonies and the beginning of the fall semester. You may ask, “how am I doing this?” Well, some of you are contributing directly through the Pandemic Ready program and through your participation on special committees. Others are doing so indirectly by learning all you can about the threat of COVID-19 and taking personal responsibility for your own preparedness. 

Part of JSU’s preparedness is keeping our campus community informed.  We learned yesterday afternoon that a JSU employee tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, the information we collected from interviewing that employee indicated to us that there was no risk of exposure to other employees or students on the JSU campus. 

As most of you know, COVID-19 spreads from person to person primarily through respiratory droplets produced when the infected person coughs, sneezes, and speaks. These potentially infectious droplets and respirable particles can land in the mouths, eyes, and nasal passages of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Numerous studies have shown that these droplets usually travel 2-6 feet. This is what led us to mandating the wearing of masks or face coverings. Masks or face coverings can help stop these droplets and particles. A cloth face covering keeps the wearer from spreading the virus to others. Importantly, a cloth face covering helps to slow the spread of the virus from people who may have the virus and not know it. 

There is quite a bit of variability in the terms “cloth mask” and “face covering.” A cloth mask, or face covering, works well with at least 2 layers of fabric. Three layers are better. The fit of the mask and its construction can make a big difference. It needs to fit your face well, cover the sides and go under the chin. A commercially available surgical mask is also adequate and very inexpensive.
You’ve doubtlessly read about the N95 respirator, which provides more protection for the person wearing it. The N95 respirator is designed to protect the user’s airway by filtering out 95% of all pathogens. These masks are designed for healthcare providers who have up close contact with patients. However, according to federal regulations, an employee’s N95 must be fit-tested and the wearer must be trained before wearing it on the job. Faculty and staff at JSU do not operate in a “high-risk” environment, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA 3099). So, if you plan to go that route, you will need to contact the University Safety Manager, Charles Moore, and gain permission to wear an N95 on campus. 
Remember that the face covering is a measure that will not only protect you, but will also protect other people from you. Therefore, if everyone is wearing a face covering or mask, we all benefit from it, since masks or face coverings help prevent the community spread of COVID-19. So, when anyone asks why we wear masks, our answer is simple. We wear masks because we care! Your mask helps to protect me, my mask helps to protect you. 

Dr. Jeff Ryan
Dr. Oye Akisanya
COVID-19 Task Force