Risk Management and Emergency Preparedness

COVID-19 Coronavirus Information

Updated April 6, 2020 8:13am - Office of Risk Management & Emergency Preparedness

Western Illinois University is continuing to closely monitor the Coronavirus. This is an evolving situation, and updates are available from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including updated Travel Notices for countries with community transmission. The University’s Pandemic Preparedness and Response Committee is following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and national, regional, and local medical providers.

To date, no members of the WIU community have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

This page is intended to provide information about COVID-19 and the University's response and actions, precautions that are being taken and prevention measures you can take, as well as information on the effects of measures various governments are taking to mitigate the outbreak.

This page is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical or legal advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.

There are numerous "what if" scenarios and questions that we may not be able to answer at this time. We are not taking this situation lightly and are working as quickly as possible to make informed decisions to keep our University community safe and provide a quality academic experience for our students.

Individuals with questions can email covid-19@wiu.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

With information changing at a rapid pace, it is recommended that you visit www.cdc.gov or www.dph.illinois.gov for more information and FAQs related to the coronavirus COVID-19.

Table of Contents
About COVID-19

What is coronavirus--COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness (colds) in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it
  • It as airborne spread and therefore can be transmitted easily.
  • 97% of people who are infected will recover and have mild illness (cold symptoms). Unfortunately, 3% of people can develop pneumonia and die from the virus. It appears that people most at risk of developing fatal complications are typically already unwell, and have medical problems such as diabetes, severe coronary artery disease, or immunocompromised conditions.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk of getting COVID-19?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), CDC, and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

How is it spread?

Person-to-person spread is occurring through airborne droplet transmission. In airborne droplet transmission the virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person inhales these airborne droplets and becomes infected. To a lesser degree, it appears that the coronavirus may be transmitted from infected surfaces. It is unknown how long the virus will survive on infected surfaces, but it is thought to live at least for two hours on infected surfaces outside of the human body.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

Health, wellness and prevention

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. (source: CDC). There currently are some experimental drugs that are being investigated for treatment for coronavirus but it is unlikely that they will be ready for use in humans anytime soon.

What do I do if I am feeling sick?

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:

  • Traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or Japan
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or Japan and had respiratory symptoms.

You should:

  • 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.
  • If you are a student meeting the conditions above, to contact Beu Health Center please call ahead at (309) 298-1888. Do not just show up at the health center without calling first.
  • If you are not a student, please call your physician or medical provider for advice. If you do not have a medical provider please call McDonough District Hospital at (309) 833-4101 for a list of providers accepting patients.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick. Please do not get on public transportation or just arrive at the campus health service. Call instead (309) 298-1888 to help with transportation if needed
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

What options are available for treatment?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for individuals infected with the COVID-19 infection, therefore individuals should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Just like other infectious diseases, sick individuals should rest as much as possible, drink lots of fluids, and avoid contact with others.

What can I do for prevention against COVID-19?

Since there is no vaccine for the disease, the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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.
  • The CDC at this time does not recommend the use of surgical masks for uninfected persons in the general public.

What is WIU’s Beu Health Center doing about COVID-19?

  • Beu Health Center has been in contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and is following advice from the IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • As part of the plan, we have been screening all patients with respiratory symptoms for their travel history to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or Japan in the preceding 14 days.

What are the WIU campuses doing about COVID-19?

  • Preparations campus-wide are being made in anticipation of a possible COVID-19 outbreak on campus.
  • Educational information has been created and currently running on digital signage in the residence halls. In addition, updated information regarding health hygiene measures suggested above has been published and provided to students.
  • Sanitizing stations have been distributed throughout campus and high touch areas are being emphasized to cleaning crews across campus.
  • Communication with other state and regional institutions continues to happen daily.

What does WIU clean and disinfect?

The University’s custodial cleaning program uses an EPA-registered disinfectant to clean touchpoints, public and common area restrooms, and kitchens daily.

There are dispenser stations throughout campus containing hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, though proper hand-washing technique is deemed to be more effective by the CDC.

WIU Building Services personnel have also implemented extra measures to clean and disinfect surfaces in public areas that are touched frequently. This includes surfaces such as door handles, banisters, and elevator buttons. It is also recommended that all departments purchase single use disinfectant wipes for human touch points within their work spaces such as keyboards, public counters, credit card readers, phones, and shared surfaces and items. We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC for preventing the spread of the virus.

University operations

If this outbreak continues, will the University close?

The University is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the health and safety of our community. We are currently working with various public health agencies on all scenarios. If the local region and campus rise to an area of concern, the Illinois Department of Public Health will work with WIU administration on a proper recommendation.

Is WIU canceling the formal graduation ceremony in May?

Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies will not take place May 8-10 following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to cancel or postpone all large gatherings for the next two months.

Diplomas will be mailed following the close of the semester, and an alternative opportunity for recognition will be scheduled at a later date. It will take some time to review these options, but we want to do our best to honor our students' achievements in some way.

Are campus tours and visits being affected at this time?

In an effort to keep the WIU community, and our visitors, safe we have temporarily suspended our visit programs.

Large scale events are being postponed or canceled and we are currently working with impacted students.

Please visit http://wiu.edu/visit/ or contact Undergraduate Admissions at admissions@wiu.edu with questions.

I’m hosting an event on campus, should I cancel it?

All University events through the remainder of the semester have been cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Are Leatherneck Athletics competitions still occurring?

At this time all Leatherneck sporting events and competitions have been canceled for the remainder of the year.

Classes and academics for students

(NEW) Temporary Pass/Fail Policy Information

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented shift from traditional classroom to online-only instruction. While Western Illinois University faculty are committed to providing the highest quality education possible during this disruption, there is concern regarding the ability of some students to fully access online instruction, and for others to successfully transition to learning in an online-only format.

Because of these extraordinary circumstances, the undergraduate Pass/Fail grading option has been modified for the Spring 2020 Semester for full-semester and second eight-week courses. View details of this policy on the Office of the Registrar's website.

When should students consider staying home from class?

First and foremost, if you are sick, stay home.

You should take steps you normally would when sick, including focusing on caring for your health, contacting your healthcare provider if you feel you need to, not attending class if contagious, and in the event you miss class due to illness, working with your instructor on any necessary arrangements for making up coursework. Also please know that students can contact the Student Development and Success Center at 309-298-1884, who have staff on hand to assist students with informing their professors of their absence.

The University requests that any person (faculty, staff, students and visitors) who traveled in a country with a  Level 3 Travel Health Notice  (due to the novel coronavirus) take the following steps before arriving on campus:

  1. Stay home for 14 days and monitor your health after you leave any country with a level 3 Travel Health Notice.
  2. If a student, contact the Student Development and Success Center to make them aware as they will assist in the coordination of notifying your professors.
  3. If you are a faculty or staff member, contact you supervisor and make them aware of the issue.
  4. Monitor your health and report any symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19 infection (fever, cough, shortness of breath).

Any student who meets these criteria — or is unsure whether they do — should contact Western Illinois University’s Beu Health Center at 309-298-1888 to coordinate with health professionals. This will assist in ensuring the safety and care of those in need as well as the rest of the WIU community. Please do not show up to Beu Health Center, urgent care or other health facility without calling first.

Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

  • Students on the WIU-Quad Cities campus should contact their primary health care provider.
  • Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.

Practice good hygiene.

  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Monitor your symptoms closely. Take your temperature daily.

Stay home from school and work until at least 24 hours after your fever ends. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around people who have compromised immune systems and/or are over the age of 65.

Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

After recently returning from a country with a Level 3 CDC travel notice due to coronavirus, I am following the guidelines to stay at home for 14 days. What will that mean for my coursework?

Please contact the Student Development and Success Center at 309-298-1884, who has personnel that can assist students with coordination on missing classwork during the 14-day period. We have encouraged instructors to work with students who are absent because of illness by offering makeup exams, alternate assignments or alternate weighting of missed work.

What exactly does alternative delivery for classes mean?

Alternative delivery means online/electronic delivery in some fashion (Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, email, etc). It is the instructor's choice. A formal announcement was provided on March 16. Students who have hands-on classes (e.g. broadcasting, music, art, etc) should contact their department chair and/or instructor.

I am on Active Duty, in the Reserves, or National Guard and have been activated (received deployment orders or been mobilized). What should I do?

Upon receipt of your initial orders, you should submit the provided form to the registrar’s office and review the University’s Military Activation policy. Based on that policy, you should work out your plan forward with your professors, beginning with contacting the Student Development and Success Center who will inform them.

Note Western Illinois University offers multiple services tailored to veteran and military service member populations. For more information regarding these benefits all Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard service or family members are encouraged to contact Veterans Resource Center as one stop shop for advise or assistance with them.

Campus housing and dining

How are housing and dining services being affected?

The department of University Housing & Dining Services is maintaining a list of frequently asked questions regarding how the outbreak is affecting WIU's housing/dining operations. Visit this list of FAQs here.

Travel and study abroad

University travel

All University-affiliated domestic air travel is also restricted until further notice; however, faculty and staff who believe they have an essential reason to travel by air can request a waiver through the Executive Director of Risk Management Joe Roselieb. Nonessential travel by bus and train is strongly discouraged. WIU students, faculty and staff are encouraged not to visit areas with high numbers of reported cases within the U.S. If individuals return from high-risk areas in the U.S. or abroad, they could be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

How is WIU assessing risks related to study abroad travel?

The Office of Study Abroad and Outreach is maintaining a list of frequently asked questions regarding how the outbreak is affecting WIU's study abroad programs. Visit this list of FAQs here.

Public health response and testing

Can you tell us more about any WIU community members who are being screened for coronavirus?

To protect their privacy, Western Illinois University legally is not able to release personal information about any students or University community members who are being monitored or tested for novel coronavirus, including their location.

Should any WIU community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and WIU would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

The McDonough County Health Department and Rock Island County Health Department maintain pages that pertain to community members who have been or are being screened.

How are you following up with people who were in contact with anyone who is being tested?

Local health departments and WIU will closely monitor people who are at potential risk and have protocols for contacting individuals who may have been in close contact with community members being screened for the novel coronavirus, such as roommates.

Should any WIU community member be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the relevant local health department and Western Illinois University would initiate appropriate protocols to protect the health of anyone deemed to be at risk.

Faculty, staff and student employees

Can faculty and staff work from home?

Western Illinois University is dedicated to protecting the health and well being of our community. Effective March 16, 2020, we are encouraging all those who can work remotely or establish other alternative work arrangements, such as staggering schedules and flexible work hours, to do so until further notice. These efforts align with our goals of decreasing interactions on campus and slowing the rate of Coronavirus transmission. We encourage you, if you have not already done so, to consult with your supervisor to determine if your position allows for such arrangements. For those in which an alternative work arrangement is an option, please complete one of the following forms, depending on your employment type:

Policies, timelines, and approaches may vary across Western Illinois University colleges and departments. We know that many of our employees hold positions which require an on-campus presence to support services to our students and our residential population, and to keep our University healthy, safe, and secure. The situation is rapidly changing as we actively address these unique employment considerations and questions for our workforce. Our human resource units will continue to review and adjust workplace policies and communicate changes as necessary as the situation develops.

For those who have not yet done so, we encourage employees to work with their supervisors to determine if an alternative work arrangement is feasible. We encourage all departments across campus to begin planning and thinking creatively about how we can continue essential operations while protecting the health and safety of our community during these unprecedented times. University Technology sent out an email providing further online resources that are available for faculty and staff. Further questions can be directed to HR-COVID-G@wiu.edu.

Can supervisors send home employees who appear ill?

Supervisors can suggest that an employee go home or seek medical treatment. If the employee chooses to go home, they should report time away from work in accordance with University policy. Employees who exhibit symptoms of acute respiratory illness symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, sneezing, sore throat, or fever of 100.4 degrees or greater) at work during a pandemic should leave the workplace.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) restricts inquiries a supervisor/employer can make regarding an employee’s medical status. Supervisors should not ask for personal medical information from employees.

Where can I find additional questions and answers, information, and resources for Faculty and Staff?

More information on the COVID-19 impact for faculty and staff can be found on the Human Resources webpage .

I am a student employee, do I return to work?

The Student Employment Office is working to identify interested student employees who are interested in working. Student employees received a survey asking for students to note their intentions regarding their desire to work. The Student Employment office will then work with offices within the University to pair student employees up with areas in need of assistance.

Campus protocols during stay at home order

What are the protocols for those individuals who must come to campus?

On March 23, the University initiated new protocols for those individuals who must come to campus.

Protocols include:

  • From 7:30-9:30 a.m. Monday-Friday, temperature testing stations are available on the Macomb campus at Beu Health Center and the Office of Public Safety. A testing station is available on the Quad Cities campus at the security desk in Riverfront Hall. This procedure is REQUIRED for any faculty/staff member working on our campuses.
  • If a staff member is on campus before 7:30 a.m., they can work from their office until testing begins, at which time, they must go to Beu, OPS or the WIU-QC security desk for a temperature reading.
  • From 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., temperature testing on the Macomb campus will be done at Beu Health Center only. Individuals will simply need to pull up to the building and call Beu (309) 298-1888 and a staff member will come out. The WIU-QC security desk will continue to conduct temperature readings until 4:30 p.m.
  • If a staff member arrives on the Macomb campus after 5 p.m., they do NOT need to go to OPS to check-in; however, their supervisor must call OPS at (309) 298-1949 to log the individual onto campus. WIU-QC staff do not need to check with a supervisor after hours. If an individual does not have a key and needs assistance with accessing a room, they should contact Dr. Rives to make arrangements.
  • On weekends, individuals on the Macomb campus do not need to go to OPS to check-in; however, their supervisor needs to call OPS at (309) 298-1949 to log the individual onto campus.
  • Individuals working at Facilities Management, OPS, Heating Plant or Sodexo Food Service do not need to check in with OPS or do a daily temperature check at a location as they will be undergoing protocols at their respective worksites.

These procedures are in place to reduce the numbers of employees on campus. Individuals should only be on campus if and when absolutely necessary; therefore, supervisors must give approval each day. Blanket approvals are not acceptable.

Map of temperature check in stations

Why does my supervisor need to approve me being on campus after 5:00pm and on weekends?

As part of our precautionary protocols we want to make sure that those working on campus are those who truly NEED to be campus without soley going by the classifications of essential and non-essential. By having your supervisor call in, this ensures that employees are working with their supervisors and have exhausted all possibilities of working remotely. This also allows us to know who's on campus, in case we need to connect.

Why can't I just have an OPS officer take my temperature on weekends or when the curbside stations aren't available?

With COVID-19 having high contagious rate, we want to make sure we are limiting officer interactions with the public and mitigating their risk of becoming infected.

Why can an individual who comes to campus before 7:30am enter their building without having their temperature taken?

One of the objectives we have during this difficult time is keeping as much access and normality to employees as much as possible. Unfortunately due to staffing, we don't have anyone available 24 hours a day to take temperatures. We also want to limit officer interactions with the public to reduce their risk of getting the virus. In this scenario, most employees who choose to come to campus before 7:30am are most likely isolated in the building. We do REQUIRE them to disinfect their offices and to visit a temperature check station when they open up at 7:30am Monday-Friday. If this becomes an issue, the alternative for the university is to introduce "curfew" hours, restricting access both before and after regular working hours.

What if I don't have a car or walk to campus, how do I get screened?

Individvudals who don't drive to work will simply need to walk up to one of the curbside check stations and they can have their temperature taken.

Do student employees need to get their temperatures checked?

If a student employee resides off-campus, they would be required to have their temperatures taken just like any other WIU employee. If the student employee resides on campus, they will be able to get their temperature taken at their respective residence hall information desk as well.

Where do I go to get my temperature taken and get my pass?

Currently the University is running 2 temperature testing stations at Beu Health Center and the Office of Public Safety (Mowbray Hall) from 7:30am-9:30am Monday-Friday.

After 9:30am employees needing to access campus will need to pull in front of Beu Health Center and call 309-298-1888. A staff member will then come out and perform a temperature test and issue you a pass.

After 5:00pm and on Weekends, employees supervisors will need to contact the Office of Public Safety at 309-298-1949 to provide permssion for their employee to be on campus.

Map of temperature check in stations

Do I need to do a temperature test and receive a pass every day?

Employees will need to have their temperatures taken and receive a new pass each day Monday through Friday. After 5:00pm each day and on weekends, supervisors will need to call the Office of Public Safety at 309-298-1949 and provide permission for their employee to be on campus.

My supervisor doesn't have time to call OPS and provide persmission, can they just send OPS a list of those who work in the department and provide "blanket approval"?

While we understand that this provides some inconvience for employees and supervisors, this proccess is required. A big part of these procedures is knowing who is on campus day to day. If there is a confirmed case, we will want to make sure we have record of who is on campus each day, so we can follow-up and provide guidence. A blanket permission statement from a supervisor doesn't provide us with the information we need to thoroughly connect potential contacts.

Recent Messages

April 3, 2020

A Message from Interim President Martin Abraham & Macomb Mayor Michael Inman

So goes Western Illinois University, so goes the City of Macomb. Read more.

April 2, 2020

WIU COVID-19 Dashboard & Map Continues to Monitor Reported Cases

Since launching a statewide COVID-19 web map and dashboard, the Western Illinois University GIS Center, in cooperation with the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences (EAGIS) and the Illinois GIS Association (ILGISA), have seen an average of 20,000 visits a day on the site as individuals seek comprehensive, and easy to follow, information regarding the spread of the virus. Read more.

April 2, 2020

Stay at Home Order Extended: State of Illinois

On April 1, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an Executive Order to extend the stay at home order for the state through April 30. Read more.

April 1, 2020

COVID-19 Website Provides Updates

The Western Illinois University Office of Risk Management, in cooperation with Beu Health Center, continues to keep the WIU community updated on the latest news and information regarding the Coronavirus pandemic through a special Coronavirus website.  Read more.

March 31, 2020

WIU Libraries Provide New Resource Page for Free Online Resources

The faculty and staff of the Western Illinois University Libraries are continuing to help students, faculty and staff obtain the materials they need for courses and research. Read more.

March 30, 2020

WIU Office of Retention Initiatives Creates Tutoring, Academic Tips Site

The Western Illinois University Office of Retention Initiatives has created a tutoring site to assist students as they navigate alternative classes during the Spring 2020 semester. Read more.

March 27, 2020

OPS Reminds WIU Community to be Aware of Fraud, Scams

Crisis situations tend to bring out the best in most people, as they turn to neighbors, friends, family and even strangers to lend a helping hand. But crisis situations also tend to bring out those less than scrupulous individual who are looking to make a fast buck. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Illinois University Office of Public Safety (OPS) wants to remind the WIU community to be wary of "too good to be true" offers and solutions. Read more.

March 26, 2020

WIU Campus Rec Creates "At Home Rec" Page

Just because you're stuck at home because of the Stay at Home order doesn't mean you still can't take part in fitness and recreation. Western Illinois University Campus Recreation has created an At-Home Recreation Resources site to keep WIU students, faculty and staff motivated and fit. Read more.

March 26, 2020

WIU EAGIS Department and GIS Center Create Statewide COVID-19 Dashboard to Monitor Reported Cases

The Western Illinois University GIS Center, in cooperation with the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Geographic Information Sciences (EAGIS), have assembled a statewide web map to monitor the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Illinois. Read more.

March 23, 2020

OSA at WIU Launches Virtual Programming Site

It's all online for Western Illinois University for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, and the Office of Student Activities (OSA) has jumped into the digital mix with a new site for students and student organizations. Read more.

March 20, 2020

Book Return; Cap and Gown Information

The deadline for textbook rentals from the Western Illinois University Bookstore will be extended beyond the original May 8 deadline. While a due date has not yet been determined, students who do not return the books by May 8 will not be charged. The University Bookstore is working with textbook vendors to determine a later return date. Read more.

March 19, 2020

Online Tips for Students

Read more.

For all WIU-related news, including pandemic-related releases and updates, visit wiu.edu/news/archive.php.

University Resources

Communication Resources

Tips for success in online classes Social Distancing - keep 6 feet distance, avoid crowded public places, avoid mass gatherings Social Distancing - keep 6 feet distance, avoid crowded public places, avoid mass gatherings

Local and State Resources

Other Resources

Resources for Faculty & Staff