Coronavirus (COVID-19) UTMB Daily Update

UPDATED Guidelines for Use of Non-Clinical Spaces on UTMB Campuses

Jun 15, 2020, 14:42 PM by COVID-19 Communications

As UTMB Health prepares for the return of students to our campuses and continues to assess the on-campus work environment for employees, the COVID-19 Clinical Task Force, in collaboration with Business Operations and Facilities, is expanding automated screening efforts to non-clinical buildings with classrooms or conference rooms.

COVID-19 continues to spread in our region, so it is important for all members of the UTMB Health community to screen for symptoms every day. To continue maintaining a safe working and learning environment, all faculty, staff and students are expected to follow these guidelines:

  1. If you are sick, do not come to campus. COVID-19 symptoms to watch for include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of the sense of taste or smell.
  2. If you are well, enter buildings only at the controlled screening entrances when you first arrive on campus. (After the initial daily screening, you do not need to use controlled entrances.)
  3. Upon entering the building, scan your ID badge to attest that you are not sick, using the symptoms listed on the kiosk as a guide. This must be done at least once daily.
    If your building does not yet have an automated screening station, you should still assess your health every day before coming to work.
  4. Obtain a mask and always wear it while in public areas of UTMB buildings (clinical or non-clinical), including lobbies, hallways, elevators, restrooms, classrooms, conference rooms, break rooms and work rooms. You do not have to wear a mask while alone in a private office.
  5. If you become ill while in a UTMB facility, you must inform your supervisor, Employee Health or Student Health, and leave immediately. Do not return to your campus until you are well.
  6. Maintain social distancing when around others.
  7. Practice frequent and thorough hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  8. When attending in-person classes or meetings, adhere to allowed maximum occupancy per room as posted on classroom entrances. Seating capacity information is also available when you reserve a room through Classroom Services. Currently, we are limiting occupancy to 25 percent of full capacity. If you are using a room that does not have an occupancy limit posted, use the 25 percent limit to determine the appropriate number of people who can be there at one time. Be sure to always maintain 6 feet of distance between people in the room.
  9. While in classrooms or conference rooms, team leaders should review the social distancing requirements with all of the attendees and affirm verbally that no one is ill.
  10. If you are sharing space in a multi-person cubicle-type study area or workstation, maintain 6 feet of separation from others and wear mask at all times. No other physical barriers are needed (e.g., Plexiglass partitions) if everyone is masked and maintains social distancing, and no one is ill.
  11. Encourage others to comply with these guidelines.

Thank you for taking these important steps to protect your and your colleagues’ health.


COVID-19 Clinical Task Force

Resources for:

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

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

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

  • 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

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

External Resources