Staying Safe During COVID-19

Student & Employee Guidelines for Masking and Social Distancing

Social Distancing and Masking

General Guidelines

  • All employees must wear a mask at all times while in public spaces, including hallways, waiting rooms, breakrooms, copy rooms, restrooms and elevators. Employees may remove the mask only when they are their own office or cubicle. Employees may bring their own personal mask from home. Employees may also be given a disposable mask by their department manager.
  • Remember to remain at least 6 feet apart.
  • No more than 2 people in an office at a time for meetings; no more than 4-5 people in small conference rooms—do not sit directly across from or adjacent to another person.
  • Large conference rooms and auditoriums may accomodate no more than 25% of their capacity; avoid activities involving more than 10 people at a time, if possible.
  • Avoid any activity that encourages congregation of persons.
  • Cubicles should be spaced so that no one is on either side or directly across from someone else (limit 2 cubicles per 4-person office).
  • Housekeeping has increased service in public areas including frequent touchpoints, such as elevators buttons, seating areas, etc.; however, employees should take responsibility for routinely cleaning surfaces in their own office space and common areas (i.e., desks, keyboards, tables, etc.).
  • Hand washing: Wet hands before dispensing soap; work up a lather and cover all surfaces of hands,including fingertips, between fingers, palms and back of hands. This will take about 20 seconds.If using alcohol hand sanitizer, please use enough to cover all surfaces of your hands including fingertips, between fingers, palms and back of hands.
  • If you develop symptoms of illness, such as a cough, sore throat, fever, etc., please stay home and contact your supervisor.

Updated 6/5/20

Restrictions on non-essential gatherings

We are currently seeing high rates of COVID-19 in our region, as well as an increase in test positivity among our employees and students. Therefore, effective immediately, the following restrictions and conditions apply to non-essential gatherings of UTMB employees and students at both on- and off-campus locations.

Celebrations for birthdays; retirements; baby showers; award recognitions; graduations of residents, fellows and students; and similar events should be done via video (Skype, Zoom, etc.).

We understand that face-to-face gatherings are sometimes needed. In those cases, please follow the following steps:

  1. To use large UTMB facilities (e.g., Open Gates, Caduceus Room, Levin Hall Dining, etc.), first obtain permission from Ms. Tilly Clark, Office of the President.
  2. Such events should be held in large open spaces at no more than 25% maximum occupancy.
  3. Everyone at the event must wear a mask, except during meals.
  4. Do not congregate closely, including for drinks or meals. You should maintain six feet of distance between individuals.
  5. Limit the event to no more than two hours.
  6. All invitees must be sent an advance notice that all participants must strictly follow social distancing and the masking policy, and that all must be free of symptoms to attend.
  7. A monitor must be assigned whose duties will be to:
    • screen arriving guests at the event entrance for symptoms of illness;
    • provide face masks to all attendees; and
    • provide instructions on social distancing.
  8. A list of all attendees must be obtained and provided to the UTMB Department of Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology upon request. Thank you for continuing to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in our region.

Updated 6/18/20

COVID-19 General FAQs


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

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