The University of Illinois System has established a new COVID-19 Planning and Response Team to help coordinate the system’s response to and communication about the novel coronavirus, U of I System President Tim Killeen announced Monday.
The system planning and response team will include experts from the U of I universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, as well as regional campuses across the state.
“Our individual universities have standing response committees, which are effectively monitoring and developing plans for their individual institutions in light of the continued transmission of the novel coronavirus,” Killeen wrote in a Feb. 29 letter to senior leadership in the system offices and at the universities.
Killeen directed the system team to work in concert and with the universities to provide a common operating structure, plans and action items; help disseminate information to all relevant stakeholders; and identify opportunities to support existing university-based personnel to help develop system-wide practices.
The team will be led by Dr. Robert A. Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with members representing all three universities, and it will report to a team made up of President Killeen, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara J. Wilson, and the chancellors and provosts of each university.
“It is my hope that this will be a short-term assignment, designed to fit the needs and demands presented by this emergent situation,” Killen said in his letter. “While the team is in place, I expect frequent updates, including advice and recommendations for the system leadership.”
The University of Illinois System is closely monitoring the spread of the novel coronavirus. Currently, there are still relatively few confirmed cases in the United States, with a handful of those cases reported in Illinois, and none thus far at U of I System universities.
The universities are leading their own response efforts, coordinating with faculty, staff and students.
While working through this situation, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take everyday precautions to prevent illness. Steps include:
- Get a flu shot — it’s not too late.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick, and cover coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.