COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The USF COVID-19 Management Team is closely monitoring developments with the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

The university has learned of four confirmed cases of COVID-19 among members of our USF community. These individuals have not been on campus since March 6, and are at home recovering. The university is in close contact with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) about these two instances, and SFDPH recommends no further action at this time beyond continued close monitoring. Consistent with earlier protocol, USF officials have been in touch with members of our community who may have had contact with these individuals. Read more »

The university is following procedures outlined in USF's Pandemic Prevention and Response Plan. We have canceled face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester and moved to a remote learning environment. The university has assembled a COVID-19 Management team that meets frequently and is providing updates to the community and coordinating the response with USF schools and colleges and key offices on campus.  In addition, Health Promotion Services is conducting proactive outreach to the community, answering questions, and giving presentations. Our facilities staff is ensuring a clean and safe environment by increasing the amount of cleaning and hand sanitizers on campus.

Yes. You will work with your designated contact, Diane Sweeney in Human Resources, and supervisor to review to discuss working remotely. If this cannot be accommodated, you will receive your regular pay for the period of self-isolation.  

This policy relies on self-disclosure. In addition, supervisory personnel are responsible for supporting community members affected by these circumstances and will address any issues through the existing administrative structure.

Students who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress may see a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) located in Gillson Hall, Lower Level (415) 422-6352. Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some early evening meetings available by appointment.

You can also contact ProtoCall, our after-hours support and consultation line. You can speak live to an on-call counselor by calling (415) 422-6352 and selecting option #2. Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, an all-hours line is available on evenings, weekends, and holidays at (855) 531-0761.

Faculty and staff who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about the coronavirus should contact USF’s Employee Assistance Plan, Concern, that provides 24/7 support to help cope with stress. For immediate support call (800) 344-4222 or visit Concern’s website (company code is USF).

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that typically cause mild respiratory infection, although they can result in more severe disease, as seen in past years with SARS and MERS. This new strain has previously not been found in humans, and its health impact is currently being closely monitored.

Much is unknown about how COVID-19, a new coronavirus, spreads. Most often, the spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s unclear if a person can get coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

For confirmed coronavirus infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. These are the most commonly associated symptoms to COVID-19:

  • Fever, Chills, or Repeated Shaking/Shivering 
  • Cough
  •  Sore Throat
  •  Shortness of Breath, Difficulty Breathing  
  • Feeling Unusually Weak or Fatigued
  •  Loss of Taste or Smell 
  • Muscle pain  
  • Headache  
  • Runny or congested nose 
  • Diarrhea

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of the coronavirus may appear in as little as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERSviruses.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus 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: washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid close contract with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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

Stay home! San Francisco as well many cities and counties have issued an order for people to stay at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Everyone is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, like a bandanna, or scarf, that covers the nose and mouth, if you must go outside.
  • Follow the guidance of public health officials.

Per the San Francisco Department of Public Health, a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual is an individual who meets any of the following requirements from 48 hours prior to symptoms of the positive individual beginning:

  • Lived or stayed with the COVID-19 positive individual
  • Was an intimate partner of a COVID-19 positive individual
  • Took care of a COVID-19 positive individual, or was taken care of by a COVID-19 positive individual
  • Stayed within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for at least 10 minutes while they were not wearing a face covering
  • Exposed to direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of a COVID-19 positive individual (e.g. coughed or sneezed on you) while not wearing a face mask, gloves, or gown

Yes.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), and San Francisco Department Public Health (“SFDPH”) have recommended that members of the public, when they need to interact with others outside the home and especially in settings where many people are present such as waiting in lines and shopping, should cover the mouth and nose to prevent inadvertently spreading the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”).

The CDC, CDPH, and SFDPH now believe that wearing a face covering, when combined with physical distancing of at least six feet and frequent hand washing, may reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus when in public and engaged in essential activities by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets. And because it is not always possible to maintain at least six feet of distance, members of the public and workers should wear face coverings while engaged in most essential activities and other activities when others are nearby. Although wearing a face covering is one tool for reducing the spread of the virus, doing so is not a substitute for sheltering in place, physical distancing of at least six feet, and frequent hand washing.

A face covering means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering. Examples of Face Coverings include a scarf or bandana; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A Face Covering may be factory-made, or may be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials.

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. If you have an underlying health condition and you are feeling sick, please seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease have a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. For individuals in those groups, the CDC recommends the following:

All students are able to visit the USF student health clinics. MyUSF has more information on the USF student health clinic, including instructions on how to download your student health insurance card. If you have any questions about health care, do not hesitate to contact Health Promotion Services at 415-422-5797 or

The university urges all members of the community to reconsider their travel plans, international and domestic, in light of the spread of COVID-19. The situation domestically and internationally is changing daily. All USF travelers are advised to consult the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travelers’ health resources and U.S. State Department travel advisories for advice regarding their destination as information and advisories are changing rapidly. For more information, review USF’s COVID-19 travel guidelines.

Yes. All travelers should consider the current entry restrictions and the likelihood that more entry restrictions will be put in place. Additional restrictions may be put in place at any moment without advance notice, including during a traveler’s journey preventing them from re-entering the United States or subjecting them to a 14-day quarantine period. The current travel restrictions on entering the US are set by the CDC

The University strongly recommends that all international students reconsider travel in keeping with the  USF travel policy and consult their ISSS advisor when making travel plans.

In addition, foreign nationals who have traveled to China or Iran in the last 14 days will be denied entry into the U.S. If you are an international student on an F1, J1, or another non-immigrant visa who has been in China recently, you will be denied entry under the new restrictions. If you are an international student currently outside of the U.S. and have been in China or Iran in the last 14 days, please contact ISSS immediately for advice.