Staying Safe During COVID-19

Student & Employee Guidelines for Masking and Social Distancing

Social Distancing and Masking
  • Interim Enhancements of COVID-19 Precautions in All UTMB Facilities

    In view of the substantially reduced incidence of COVID-19 in our local region, which is currently at a less than a 5 percent positivity rate in those tested, UTMB will now allow a modest increase in the numbers of persons who can be present for face-to-face events.

    The following guidelines align with Governor Abbott’s recent executive order to expand openings of certain businesses and activities:

    • For theater-style lecture hall seating, ensure proper spacing between persons by choosing one of the following methods to achieve 6-foot social distancing between groups of individuals and to not exceed 50 percent of the facility’s indoor occupancy limits.
      • For facilities that configure seating arrangements in rows, maintain at least two empty seats (or six feet separation) between groups in any row AND keep every other row left empty.
      • No tables of more than 10 people.
    • For seminars and meetings in small conference rooms where individuals are seated at tables, ensure there are no more than 10 persons, or no more than a maximum 50 percent capacity of the room (whichever is smaller). Meals during these meetings are not allowed as they lead to unmasking.
    • The capacity in the dine-in cafeterias and the Alumni Field House will be increased to 75 percent. Persons using the athletic facility must wear a face mask and avoid playing contact sports.

    UTMB will continue to maintain other safety precautions as outlined below:

    • 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.
    • Continue to utilize teleconferencing technologies as much as possible.
    • Lunch breaks in small break rooms have been associated with several employee-to-employee instances of transmission of COVID-19. Strict adherence to 6-foot social distancing must be maintained, and unmasked exposure to other employees should not exceed 15 minutes.
    • No more than 2 persons should be in an office at a time for meetings, and no more than 4-5 persons should be in small conference rooms. Do not sit directly across from or adjacent to another person.
    • Avoid any activity that encourages congregation of persons; this includes social celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, etc.
    • 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).
    • Perform frequent hand hygiene. Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth areas without hand hygiene.
    • The Visitation Policy remains unchanged.
    • Everyone must self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming onto campus each day. If you develop symptoms of illness, such as a cough, sore throat, fever, etc., please stay home and contact your supervisor.

Holiday Celebrations and Other Social Gatherings:

  • The state rules for increased capacity at commercial restaurants and bars do not apply to health care or educational facilities, or to other workplaces.
  • Departmentally sanctioned holiday celebrations are not allowed, on or off campus.
  • Any other in-person social gathering must adhere to the room capacity limits, masking requirements and social distancing rules for ‘Conferences and Meetings,’ as noted above.
  • For social gatherings of more than 10 participants, ensure compliance with the safety rules and maintain a sign-in attendance sheet. The sign-in sheet must be made available for any future epidemiologic investigations, to help with contact tracing.

Latest Masking/Social Distancing Updates

  • Current guidelines regarding domestic and international travel, in-person meetings and more

    As vaccination rates continue to climb and our most recent surge in COVID-19 cases subsides, the COVID-19 Clinical Task Force wants to update the UTMB community on travel guidelines and other safety measures. This message is intended for UTMB employees, who must be logged onto the UTMB network to access the full text. Thank you.

  • Vaccine Task Force: Updated meeting room capacity limits

    As our COVID-19 vaccination program has progressed, the COVID-19 Clinical Task Force has updated meeting room capacity limits. This message is intended for UTMB employees, who must be logged onto the UTMB network to access the full text. Thank you.

COVID-19 General FAQs


  • What is COVID-19

    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

  • How do I help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if I am sick?
    • 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

  • Can I get tested for the coronavirus? What’s the process?

    Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, can schedule online or contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

    • Patients should follow 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.
    • 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 10/16/2020

  • How long does the virus remain active on inanimate objects, such as clothing, currency, coins, and hard surfaces such as countertops and door handles?

    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

  • How to protect yourself
    • 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

  • Can COVID-19 spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects?

    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

  • Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
    • 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

  • If someone has minor symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, can they be isolated at home instead of a hospital?

    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